Six Ways Women Can Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are the most common bacterial infection diagnosed in women. In fact, more than 50% of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime. Urinary tract infections are also the most common cause of gross hematuria, which is where blood is visible in your urine. Here are simple steps every woman can take to help prevent this common infection.
Other Ways To Prevent Some Utis Coming Back
If you keep getting a bladder infection , there is some evidence it may be helpful to take:
- D-mannose a sugar you can buy as a powder or tablets to take every day
- cranberry products available as juice, tablets or capsules to take every day
Speak to your doctor before taking any of these during pregnancy.
Be aware that D-mannose and cranberry products can contain a lot of sugar.
If you’re taking warfarin, you should avoid cranberry products.
Page last reviewed: 22 March 2022 Next review due: 22 March 2025
Urinary Tract Infections In Women
UTIs are common, particularly with increasing age. Women are more likely to get a UTI than men. Nearly 1 in 3 women will have a UTI needing treatment before the age of 24.
In women, the urethra is short and straight, making it easier for germs to travel into the bladder. For some women, UTIs relate to changes in their hormonal levels. Some are more likely to get an infection during certain times in their menstrual cycle, such as just before a period or during pregnancy.
In older women, the tissues of the urethra and bladder become thinner and drier with age as well as after menopause or a hysterectomy. This can be linked to increased UTIs.
During pregnancy, the drainage system from the kidney to the bladder widens so urine does not drain as quickly. This makes it easier to get a UTI. Sometimes germs can move from the bladder to the kidney causing a kidney infection. UTIs during pregnancy can result in increased blood pressure, so it is very important to have them treated as soon as possible.
Women are more at risk of repeated UTIs if they:
- use spermicide jelly or diaphragm for contraception
- have had a new sexual partner in the last year
- had their first UTI at or before 15 years of age
- have a family history of repeated UTIs, particularly their mother
- suffer from constipation
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Women Suffer From Uti More Than Men
Bacteria enters her urethra, cultivates, and then moves up into the bladder. Third, when a woman is menstruating or sexually active, there are more foreign objects being introduced to her genitals .
The more often bacteria are introduced to that environment, statistically speaking, her chances of picking up some bad bacteria increase. To step away from the gender issue, certain conditions can increase your risk as well, such as diabetes and kidney stones. Other health issues that hinder the flow of urine and therefore increase the chance of a UTI include an enlarged prostate, urinary retention, immobility, or even a baby in the womb resting on a womans bladder.
General Guidelines And Suggestions
There are a number of general guidelines and suggestions that will help women avoid urinary tract infections in most instances. These may be conveniently divided into the categories of hygiene, clothing, diet, activities, and medications. Most UTIs are ascending infections of bacteria that colonize the vaginal wall and eventually the urethra. From the urethra, the bacteria can travel upwards and infect the bladder or continue from the bladder up the ureters and infect the kidneys themselves . The effective preventive measures are able to block this bacterial migration.
Go to Urinary Tract Infection in Females for complete information on this topic.
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Include Probiotics In Your Diet
Knowing how to prevent urinary tract infection is important if you are prone to recurrent infections in your urinary system. Probiotics in your diet are a good way to increase healthy bacteria in your gut and urinary system. If your urinary tract and immune system are healthy, you might not get UTI. Boost your urinary tract by taking probiotic supplements, yogurt, kefir, or tempeh.
What Is A Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection is an infection of the urinary system. This type of infection can involve your urethra , kidneys or bladder, .
Your urine typically doesnt contain bacteria . Urine is a byproduct of our filtration systemthe kidneys. When waste products and excess water is removed from your blood by the kidneys, urine is created. Normally, urine moves through your urinary system without any contamination. However, bacteria can get into the urinary system from outside of the body, causing problems like infection and inflammation. This is a urinary tract infection .
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How To Prevent A Urinary Tract Infection
Elizabeth, a 35-year-old working mother and graduate student, has experienced three urinary tract infections in the past six months. When she started to have symptoms — including the frequent urge to urinate — Elizabeth set up a video visit with her physician She told the doctor that she was “99.9% sure it’s another UTI.”
But, Elizabeth continued, she had been using prevention techniques that she found online — like drinking cranberry juice. She wanted to know what else she could do to keep this from happening again.
Recurrent UTIs are when a woman has had two or more UTIs within six months, or three or more UTIs within a year. Having repeat infections is common: More than 80% of women who have one UTI will have another during their life.
And after a UTI, women can experience a relapse, which is a resurgence of the infection within two weeks of the original symptoms. More commonly, women can also experience reinfection, when a second UTI is caused by a completely new infection more than two weeks later.
Why do some people get more UTIs than others?
How Are Urinary Tract Infections Treated
You will need to treat a urinary tract infection. Antibiotics are medicines that kill bacteria and fight an infection. Antibiotics are typically used to treat urinary tract infections. Your healthcare provider will pick a drug that best treats the particular bacteria thats causing your infection. Some commonly used antibiotics can include:
Its very important that you follow your healthcare providers directions for taking the medicine. Dont stop taking the antibiotic because your symptoms go away and you start feeling better. If the infection is not treated completely with the full course of antibiotics, it can return.
If you have a history of frequent urinary tract infections, you may be given a prescription for antibiotics that you would take at the first onset of symptoms. Other patients may be given antibiotics to take every day, every other day, or after sexual intercourse to prevent the infection. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment option for you if you have a history of frequent UTIs.
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Why Are Females At A Higher Risk For Utis
People with female reproductive organs are at a higher risk for UTIs because of their anatomy. The female urethra, the tube which empties urine from your bladder out of your body, is shorter than someone born with male anatomy.
The female urethra is also quite close to female reproductive organs. That means bacteria from sexual intercourse as well as products like spermicide can be in close contact with the urethra and bladder.
Empty Your Bladder Immediately After Intercourse
If you empty your bladder soon after sex, youll flush out bacteria that may have been introduced during intercourse and prevent them from entering the urinary tract.
This simple step can help prevent a UTI.
In addition, if you have an urge to urinate, dont hold it in.
Doing so can allow bacteria to multiply.
For this reason, its best to go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the need to urinate.
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Things You Can Do Yourself
To help ease symptoms of a urinary tract infection :
- takeparacetamolup to 4 times a day to reduce pain and a high temperature for people with a UTI, paracetamol is usually recommended over NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin
- you can give childrenliquid paracetamol
- rest and drink enough fluids so you pass pale urine regularly during the day
- avoid having sex
Some people take cystitis sachets or cranberry drinks and products every day to prevent UTIs from happening, which may help. However, there’s no evidence they help ease symptoms or treat a UTI if the infection has already started.
Urinate At Least Every Four Hours
Women who go more than four hours without urinating have an increased risk of developing a UTI, as voiding infrequently gives bacteria more time to accumulate in the bladder, which can lead to a kidney infection. Urinating at least every four hours ensures that any unwanted bacteria are flushed out of the bladder before it causes an infection.
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Possible Preventive Strategies For Utis
While the research is still out on the preventative strategies below, prospects are promising.
- Probiotics The probiotic strain Lactobacillus, found in fermented milk products, has been shown to prevent urinary tract infections in laboratory testing. Theres also promising research that shows the strains L. rhamnosus gr-1 and L. fermentum rc-14 could prevent UTIs as well.
- Cranberry Juice Cranberries contain polyphenols called proanthocyanidins, which may help prevent E. coli from causing urinary tract infections in women, but data is conflicting about the effectiveness. While a meta-analysis published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine showed a decrease in UTI rates in those who consumed daily cranberry tablets, a subsequent review published in the Cochrane Database found insufficient evidence to recommend routine use of cranberry. The American Urological Association does recommend cranberry extract as a preventive measure for UTIs Ellura is a brand of cranberry extract capsules.
- Diet Adjustment Research has shown that urine with higher pH levels and higher levels of certain metabolites formed by gut microbes are better able to resist recurrent UTIs. Its thought that one can improve these levels through diet. For instance, calcium supplements raise urinary pH levels. In addition, consuming foods rich in antioxidants, like tea and colorful berries, may encourage growth of metabolites.
These Are The Steps To Take When Youre Trying To Ward Off Utis
If you havent experienced a urinary tract infection before, take note: while the infections are uncommon in older men, they can be common in older women, occurring in 10% of women ages 65 or older, and in 30% of women ages 85 or older. For up to a third of women who have a UTI, the infection comes back within six months.
“E. coli bacteria cause approximately 80% of all recurrent UTIs and continue generating microbe strains that are resistant to antibiotics. The ability of the bacteria to stick to the urinary tract can sometimes make them very difficult to eliminate,” says Edward Doherty, who spent 10 years working on potential vaccines for recurrent UTI and other conditions at Harvards Wyss Institute and is now CEO and co-founder of vaccine maker Attivare Therapeutics.
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How To Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support , Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support , Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee in 2006.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 260,421 times.
Experts say urinary tract infections typically affect your bladder and urethra but could become serious if they spread to your kidneys. UTIs occur when bacteria enters your urethra and multiplies in your bladder. While women are more at-risk, UTIs can happen to anyone.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source Research suggests that simple changes like showering, limiting personal care products around your genitals, and maintaining good hygiene may help prevent UTIs.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
Switch Your Birth Control
Depending on which type of contraception you use, your birth control might be creating a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes UTIs. Specifically, spermicides put you at a higher risk for these infections, per the OWH. Diaphragms, too, may increase the risk of UTIs, according to Nemours Children’s Health.
If UTIs have become a persistent problem in your life, it may be a good idea to talk to your ob-gyn about potentially switching birth control to see if it might help.
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Should Uti Treatment Vary According To Whats Causing The Infection
Your UTI treatment may vary according to whats causing the infection. Certain UTIs, especially chronic and recurring ones, will need antibiotic treatment as opposed to simple home remedies.
If youre prescribed antibiotics to treat a UTI, a healthcare professional may choose an antibiotic thats specific to the type of bacteria thats triggering your infection.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Urinary Tract Infection
These are the most common symptoms of a UTI:
- Frequent urination
- Pain or burning when passing urine
- Urine looks dark, cloudy, or reddish in color
- Urine smells bad
- Feeling pain even when not urinating
- Pain in the back or side, below the ribs
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Despite an strong urge to urinate, only a small amount of urine is passed
- Women may feel an uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone
The symptoms of UTI may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see a health care provider for a diagnosis.
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Empty Your Bladder Frequently
Do not control the urge to urinate. Empty your bladder whenever you feel like going to the bathroom. Try to pass urine every 3-4 hours. Holding urine can cause bacterial growth. Pregnancy puts the womens health at risk for urinary tract infection, and holding the urine can only lead to increased risk factors.,
Who Is Susceptible To A Kidney Infection
Patients who have a kidney infection are usually in advanced age, or they have an issue that compromises their health, such as kidney stones, an obstruction, an anatomic abnormality or diabetes. More often, women have a urinary tract infection that they treat, which keeps it from progressing to a kidney infection, says Dr. Vasavada. But bladder infections very rarely progress to kidney infections.
You will be pretty sick if you have a kidney infection, and its important that you seek treatment right away.
Symptoms of a bladder infection are urgency and frequency in using the bathroom and burning with urination, while symptoms of a kidney infection are much more severe and include:
- Fever and flu-like symptoms.
- Lower back or side pain. This can be on the left or right side of your back depending on which kidney is infected. It may feel like you were hit in the back with a baseball bat, Dr. Vasavada says.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Urine that is cloudy, has blood in it and is foul smelling.
- A general sense of malaise.
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Tips To Prevent A Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection, also called a UTI, is an infection that occurs in the urinary system. This could include the urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys. Most infections involve the bladder and urethra, known as the lower urinary tract.
The most common symptoms include painful urination, tenderness above the bladder area, urgency and frequency of urination. Cloudy and a strong odor are not signs of infection.
Women are at greater risk for a UTI because the urethra is shorter than in men, so it’s easier for bacteria to travel to the bladder. UTIs also are more common in postmenopausal women because low estrogen levels change vaginal and urethral tissue to increase the risk of infection.
It’s always better to prevent an infection rather than simply treat it. UTIs are no different.
Drink Plenty Of Fluids Especially Water
This is one of the most important things you can do to prevent urinary tract infections.
The more water you drink, the more diluted your urine will be.
This helps to flush out bacteria that can cause an infection.
Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day.
You can also drink cranberry juice.
Cranberries have been shown to help prevent urinary tract infections by making it harder for bacteria to stick to the walls of the bladder and urethra.
So next time youre feeling thirsty, reach for a glass of water instead of a soda or coffee.
Your bladder will thank you!