About a fifth of all women will have a UTI in their life, with many experiencing recurring infections. Here are steps you can take to reduce the risk of getting one
Go to the loo
Ensuring you drink plenty of water throughout the day may decrease your risk of getting a UTI.Take regular trips to the toilet to empty your bladder. “Holding it in” may result in bacteria having the opportunity to multiply in your urinary tract, giving you an increased risk of infection.
Urinate after sex
Women should be encouraged to empty their bladder after sex. Bacteria can be introduced to the urinary tract during foreplay or sexual intercourse, which should be expelled before the bacteria are allowed to multiply and cause an infection. Additionally, think about what type of contraception you are using – some people find using spermicides can increase UTIs, as can diaphragms.
D-Mannose is a natural sugar thought to aid in the removal of E coli during a UTI and stop the infection in its tracks. Recent, small studies have looked at the use of D-Mannose oral powder and compared it with prophylactic antibiotics, and have shown promising results.
See a doctor
If you are experiencing UTI symptoms (eg pain on urination, or increased frequency) you should see a doctor, particularly if you suffer from recurring UTIs. You may need a course of antibiotics or possibly an ultrasound scan to investigate the cause of the recurring infection. For example, it could be due to an anatomical abnormality or an inability to fully empty your bladder. A weakened immune system could be causing the repeat infections, which would need further investigation.
After visiting the toilet, wiping from back to front can increase the risk of getting a UTI, as you could introduce faecal bacteria into the urinary tract. However, overcleaning is not the answer, as using too many products can alter your flora and raise the risk of getting a UTI.
Take special care after the menopause
Oestrogen is believed to be protective against UTIs via a variety of mechanisms, meaning that menopausal women with declining oestrogen may be vulnerable to UTIs. In a meta-analysis of five randomised controlled trials, it was found that topical vaginal oestrogen was beneficial in reducing UTIs in post-menopausal women.
Cranberries and cranberry juice have long been suggested as treatments for UTIs. But studies have shown mixed data on how successful they are. Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, believed to prevent bacteria from “clinging on” inside your bladder. But cranberry juice may not be that useful, as it can be minimal in actual cranberry content and full of sugar and additives instead – so make sure you get cranberries in a raw form if you want to try this method. If you try a vodka and cranberry while you have a UTI, be aware that the alcohol may irritate your bladder and bring you back to square one with the symptoms.
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