What Not To Do
- Don’t use vaginal deodorants or douches
- Don’t use diaphragms, spermicide or unlubricated condoms
- Don’t hold urine in for long periods of time
- Don’t remain in wet clothes or swimsuits
- Don’t wear non-cotton underwear
As Elizabeth and millions of other women like her know, UTIs can be painful and inconvenient.
“The best way to deal with a UTI is to prevent it from happening in the first place,” said Kim Chiang, MD, a Stanford primary care physician.
In addition to incorporating the do’s and don’t of UTI prevention into your life, make sure to ask your doctor or health care provider about other prevention techniques, especially if you have recurrent UTIs.
This is the second post in the seriesUnderstanding UTIs. The goal of this seven-part series is to provide easy-to-understand, scientifically grounded information about UTIs. Patients referenced are composites, compiled from actual patient experiences.
Joanna Langner is a graduate student in Community Health and Prevention Research at Stanford who is interested in health disparities and women’s health. She wrote this series with the support of Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Program on Prevention Outcomes and Practices, and Kim Chiang, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine.
Does Taking An Antibiotic After Sex Prevent Utis
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, having sex three or more times a week increases your risk for recurrent UTIs. Your risk is also increased if you use a diaphragm or spermicide products, regardless of the frequency of sexual activity. If you experience recurrent UTIs, changing your method of contraception should be the first thing you consider.
If you continue to suffer from UTIs and they are getting in the way of living a normal life, taking a preventive antibiotic could be an option. Taking regular antibiotics is not a risk-free treatment though, so have a conversation with your provider about whether this is right for you. Taking an antibiotic before or after sex can prevent recurrent UTIs especially if UTIs repeatedly show up 24 hours after intercourse.
During sex, bacteria can get into the urinary tract and cause infections. Antibiotics work by fighting these bacteria. E. coli is the most common bacteria that causes UTIs. Common antibiotics used to treat UTIs are nitrofurantoin, cephalexin, or trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole .
A clinical trial showed that only 2 out of 16 women who took TMP/SMX right after sex had recurrent UTIs compared to 9 out of 11 women who had a sugar pill. The results were the same regardless of how often the women had sex.
Preventing Utis With Drugs
At times, antibiotics are used as a preventative measure for those with frequent UTI recurrences. In addition, postmenopausal women can benefit from a different type of a medicinal prevention strategy.
- Antimicrobial Prophylaxis In some cases of urinary tract infection recurrences, a physician may recommend antimicrobial prophylaxis, which is the use of antibiotics to prevent another infection. This has been shown to effectively reduce ones risk of recurrent UTIs in women with two infections over the previous year.
- Postcoital Prophylaxis For those whose UTI recurrences are related to sexual intercourse, taking antibiotics after intercourse may be preferable. Depending on the frequency of intercourse, postcoital prophylaxis likely results in less use than antimicrobial prophylaxis.
- Estrogen for Postmenopausal WomenThe use of a vaginal cream or an estradiol-releasing vaginal ring have both been shown to be an effective strategy for reducing recurrent urinary tract infections in postmenopausal women. In fact, vaginal estrogen has been shown to reduce recurrent UTIs by 36 to 75 percent.
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Preventing Urinary Tract Infections With Urology Specialist
If you have any further questions about urinary health or UTIs and would like to book an appointment, please feel free to call.
Dr Arianayagam is a highly skilled urological surgeon who treats cancers and other disorders of the urinary system.
After training in NSW further training in Urologic Oncology, he was undertaken at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He completed a two-year fellowship accredited by the Society of Urologic Oncology.
Learn about some other health issues Dr Arianayagam can help resolve:
Who’s At Risk For Bladder Infections
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, women make more than eight million physician visits a year as a result of UTIs. As many as 20 percent of women have had or will have a UTI in their lifetime, and 80 percent of those women will probably experience a repeat infection in less than a year. Men can get UTIs, too, but they are usually related to obstruction caused by an enlarged prostate gland.
Why are women so unlucky when it comes to UTIs? The female anatomy is one reason. Women have a shorter urethra, which means bacteria have a shorter trip to infect the bladder and other components of the urinary tract. Sexually active women can have bacteria more easily introduced into their urethra, and the hormonal changes pregnant women go through may also contribute to the higher incidence of UTIs. In addition, women who use a diaphragm for birth control also have a higher risk as do those who have a tendency to “hold it” rather than using the bathroom when the urge to urinate hits.
Regardless of sex, anyone who uses a urinary catheter for a prolonged period of time, has experienced changes in their immune system, or has a stone that can block the flow of urine has an increased risk of cystitis and other UTIs.
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What Is My Risk For Uti
Anyone can get UTI. However, people with SCI have a higher risk than normal.
- People with SCI who use an indwelling Foley or suprapubic catheter may be at higher risk for UTI than those who use a clean intermittent catheterization technique or have an external sheath or condom catheter.
- Talk to your health professional about lowering your risk for UTI if you average more than one UTI per year. Your health professional may suggest another method of bladder management that works better for you.
What May Cause A Uti After Sex
The urethra is the tube through which urine exits the body from the bladder. In women, this tube is short, making it quicker and easier for bacteria to enter the opening and infiltrate the bladder.
The bacteria that cause a UTI live in the area around the anus, Dr. Yavagal says. Sex can shift bacteria toward the front. From there, its just a short hop up the urethra into the bladder, where it can multiply and cause a UTI.
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Can Probiotics Prevent Utis
Probiotics are live microorganisms that you can supposedly take for health benefits. The most commonly recommended probiotic for recurrent UTIs is Lactobacillus, a type of bacteria that normally lives in our gut and helps keep it healthy.
The theory is that lactobacilli prevent invaders like E. coli from attaching to cells in vagina and hiding until they cause a reinfection later. Studies have found that women who have recurrent UTIs dont have enough lactobacilli.
Lactobacillus comes in a capsule that you take by mouth or as an intravaginal suppository. In a few studies, it lowered the number of UTIs that women experienced. In another small study, taking Lactobacillus and cranberry supplements together was more effective than taking them separately. However, when multiple studies on Lactobacillus were reviewed, the results were inconsistent. Also, When Lactobacillus was compared to TMP/SMX, the antibiotic worked better than Lactobacillus at reducing UTIs.
Recommending Lactobacillus is also difficult because there are many different strains of the bacteria that havent been studied well. Also, like cranberry supplements, probiotic products are not strictly regulated by the FDA nor have they been approved by the FDA to prevent UTIs.
Lactobacillus is generally safe, though there are some reports of vaginal or abdominal discomfort. It may also be costly to try different strains and products to find one that works best.
When To Visit An Urgent Care For Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
Sometimes even your best efforts to prevent a UTI dont work. If you notice the common symptoms of a urinary tract infection, you should visit a doctor or urgent care nearby for treatment. University Urgent Care can perform a urinalysis to determine whether or not you have an infection. If your test is positive, our healthcare professionals can prescribe antibiotics and give you at-home treatment options to clear up the disease as quickly as possible.
Visit our facility seven days a week from 10 AM- 8 PM for all your urgent care needs. Were conveniently located near the TCU campus in Fort Worth, Texas. Our team is available to provide quality medical care to anyone in the Fort Worth area. Book an appointment online or give us a call at 439-9539 for fast, convenient medical treatment.
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Rethink Your Feminine Care Routine
Certain feminine care products may play a role in developing a UTI. Specifically, anything that has added fragrance can cause irritation that makes bacteria more likely to become trapped in the urinary tract. Avoid scented tampons and maxi pads, and if you use powder, feminine deodorant spray, or personal care wipes, choose unscented, hypoallergenic options.
Douching, or cleaning out the inside of your vagina, may also put you at risk for UTIs. This practice can eliminate beneficial bacteria from the vagina and increase its acidity, encouraging the growth of harmful bacteria that may cause infections of both the vagina and the urinary tract. Douching also makes you more susceptible to vaginal yeast infections.
How Is It Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You may have lab tests of your urine and discharge from the urethra and prostate gland.
For serious or repeated infections, you may need:
- An intravenous pyelogram . An IVP is a special type of X-ray of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder.
- An ultrasound scan to look at the urinary tract.
- A cystoscopy. This is an exam of the inside of the urethra and bladder with a small lighted instrument. It is usually done by a specialist called a urologist.
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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider
- Back pain.
If you have any of these symptoms, or your other symptoms continue after treatment, call your healthcare provider. A UTI can spread throughout your urinary tract and into other parts of your body. However, treatment is very effective and can quickly relieve your symptoms.
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What Is A Uti
A UTI is an infection that affects the structures through which urine passes as it is being eliminated. These structures include the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys.
Symptoms of a UTI include:
- Mild discomfort to moderate pain during urination
- A need to urinate frequently
- Strong smelling urine
- A burning sensation when urinating
Especially when they are chronic, UTIs can lead to dangerous complications like or kidney damage when left untreated.
Urinary tract infections are common and often recurring. Symptoms range from slight discomfort to moderate pain. UTIs can be frustrating and persistent. They typically require medical treatment, but several home remedies may help resolve your UTI.
Antibiotics are a popular treatment for UTIs but because infections like this are often chronic, antibiotic resistance is a concern when considering treatment plans for UTI patients. Apart from antibiotics, UTI home remedies have become increasingly popular.
Always seek medical advice before using home remedies to treat your UTI.
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How Long Do You Need To Take Antibiotics For A Uti
Antibiotics are typically prescribed for 3-7 days. The course may be extended or the prescription may change if the initial course fails to treat the infection.
For antibiotic therapy to be effective, you need to take the drugs as instructed. Many times, symptoms may seem to resolve before you complete the entire course of antibiotics. However, avoid discontinuing the course of treatment and continue to take the doses as prescribed.
If you are a female and suffer from frequent UTIs, your doctor may ask you to:
- Take a single dose of antibiotic after intercourse
- Take low-dose antibiotics for up to 5 months
- Undergo vaginal estrogen therapy if you are menopausal
Whats The Difference Between A Urinary Tract Infection And Bladder Infection
A urinary tract infection is a more general type of infection. There are many parts of your urinary tract. A UTI is a term for an infection that takes place throughout the urinary tract. A bladder infection, also called cystitis, is a specific infection. In this infection, bacteria makes its way into the bladder and causes inflammation.
Not all urinary tract infections become bladder infections. Preventing the spread of the infection is one of the most important reasons to treat a UTI quickly when you have symptoms. The infection can spread not only to the bladder, but also into your kidneys, which is a more complicated type of infection than a UTI.
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What To Expect At Home
UTIs can lead to infection. Most often the infection occurs in the bladder itself. At times, the infection can spread to the kidneys.
Common symptoms include:
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Needing to urinate more often
- Hard to empty your bladder all the way
- Strong need to empty your bladder
These symptoms should improve soon after you begin taking antibiotics.
If you are feeling ill, have a low-grade fever, or some pain in your lower back, these symptoms will take 1 to 2 days to improve, and up to 1 week to go away completely.
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What Can Happen If A Uti Is Not Treated
If treated right away, a UTI is not likely to damage your urinary tract. But if your UTI is not treated, the infection can spread to the kidneys and other parts of your body. The most common symptoms of kidney infection are fever and pain in the back where the kidneys are located. Antibiotics can also treat kidney infections.
Sometimes the infection can get in the bloodstream. This is rare but life-threatening.
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Does Cranberry Juice Prevent A Urinary Tract Infection
Many people say that cranberry juice can help treat, or even prevent, a UTI. Researchers are currently looking into the topic, but havent found a definitive answer yet. Healthcare providers recommend drinking lots of fluids if you have, or have a history of getting, a UTI. Adding a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice to your diet isnt a proven way to prevent a UTI, but it typically wont hurt you either.
Other Ways To Prevent Recurring Utis
If you have more than 3 UTIs in 1 year, or 2 UTIs in 6 months, there are other things that may help prevent UTIs.
There is some evidence that women under 65 years old who keep getting UTIs may find it helpful to take:
- a supplement called D-mannose this is not recommended for pregnant women
- cranberry products, such as juice or tablets
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.
Page last reviewed: 18 November 2020 Next review due: 18 November 2023
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What Is Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infection or UTIs are infections that can occur at different points in the urinary tract, including:
Kidneys: Also known as pyelonephritis or kidney infection.
Bladder: Also called cystitis or bladder infection.
Ureters: These are the tubes that carry urine from each kidney to the bladder only rarely are they the only site of an infection.
Urethra: Infections of the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside is called urethritis.
Women are more likely to get a urinary tract infection than men. The infection that is confined to the bladder can be painful and bothersome. However, it can have serious consequences if the urinary infection spreads to the kidneys.
Causes Of Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs are usually caused by bacteria from poo entering the urinary tract.
The bacteria enter through the tube that carries pee out of the body .
Women have a shorter urethra than men. This means bacteria are more likely to reach the bladder or kidneys and cause an infection.
Things that increase the risk of bacteria getting into the bladder include:
- having sex
do not use scented soap
do not hold your pee in if you feel the urge to go
do not rush when going for a pee try to fully empty your bladder
do not wear tight, synthetic underwear, such as nylon
do not drink lots of alcoholic drinks, as they may irritate your bladder
do not have lots of sugary food or drinks, as they may encourage bacteria to grow
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