There’s nothing quite as frustrating as a urinary tract infection (UTI), except for recurrent UTIs! If you find yourself constantly dealing with UTIs, there are steps you can take to help prevent them and improve your urinary tract health.
Follow these ten practical tips to minimize the occurrence of UTIs and keep your discomfort at bay, courtesy of our board-certified urologists at Bellingham Urology Group in Bellingham and Mount Vernon, Washington.
Boost your water intake to help flush out bacteria from your urinary tract. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day. When you're properly hydrated, your body can more effectively eliminate harmful bacteria that can lead to UTIs.
Note: broths, soup, and herbal tea can help you stay hydrated but don’t skip out on water even if you eat these hydrating foods. If you don’t like plain water, try adding lemon slices, fresh herbs like mint, or even berries to your water.,
Maintaining good hygiene habits is crucial to preventing UTIs. After using the bathroom, remember to wipe from front to back. This simple practice can help prevent the transfer of bacteria from the anal area to the urethra and helps to reduce your risk of infection.
Opt for breathable underwear made from natural fabrics like cotton. This promotes air circulation, reduces moisture buildup, and creates an environment less conducive to bacterial growth. Avoid tight-fitting pants or synthetic materials that can trap moisture and warmth, as these create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
Make sure you're emptying your bladder regularly. Holding in urine for extended periods can allow bacteria to multiply within your urinary tract. Don't delay trips to the bathroom when you feel the urge to urinate.
Engaging in sexual activity can sometimes introduce bacteria into the urethra. To minimize this risk, make it a habit to urinate before and after sexual intercourse. This can help flush out any potential bacteria and reduce the likelihood of infection.
Overwashing the vaginal area can increase your risk of developing a UTI. This may sound counterintuitive, but overwashing, especially with douches, can throw off the balance of beneficial vaginal flora. When the “good bacteria” are wiped out, the “bad bacteria” can take over and contribute to a variety of vaginal infections and UTIs.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends that women let the vagina clean itself naturally and, if needed, only use water on the vulva.
According to a 2021 study, a compound in cranberry (proanthocyanidins) might help prevent UTIs by preventing bacteria from adhering to the inside of your urinary tract walls. If you're prone to UTIs, consider incorporating cranberry juice into your diet, but skip “cranberry beverages” as those are often loaded with sugar and don’t contain much juice. Look for 100% organic cranberry juice without any added sugar. It’s tart, but focus on the nutrition it provides!
Note: because too much cranberry can interfere with blood-thinning medications, talk to your Bellingham Urology Group provider before starting or stopping any supplement, including cranberry supplements.
Constipation can contribute to UTIs by putting pressure on your urinary tract and preventing it from emptying fully. This is especially true in children who have recurrent UTIs. Maintain a high-fiber diet to promote regular bowel movements and reduce the risk of UTIs. Provide plenty of fiber-rich snacks to your kids.
After a workout or any activity that leaves you sweaty, take a shower to rinse off excess sweat and bacteria. Sitting around in sweaty clothes for prolonged periods can create an environment conducive to bacterial growth.
If you can’t shower at the gym, at least change into dry clothes (and underwear) before heading home.
Remember, a few simple changes to your routine can make a significant difference in preventing these uncomfortable infections, but if you find yourself repeatedly battling UTIs despite following preventive measures, it's time to seek medical advice. Chronic UTIs might indicate an underlying issue that requires medical attention, but it’s a condition that Curran Emeruwa, MD, John Pettit, MD, Mackenzie Epler, PA-C, and Eleni Zobolas, ARNP, diagnose and treat in both children and adults here at Bellingham Urology Group.
Depending on the source of your recurrent UTIs, our team may recommend behavioral techniques, targeted antibiotic therapy, surgery to remove kidney stones (if they contribute to your UTIs), surgery to correct structural abnormalities, and MonaLisa Touch® treatments for women who experience chronic UTIs as a result of vaginal atrophy.
To learn more about your options, call or message our location closest to you today to schedule an appointment. Don't let myths hold you back from seeking the help you deserve.