Preventing a Urinary Tract Infection

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A urinary tract infection is precisely what it sounds like – an infection in the urinary tract. These infections most commonly affect the urethra or bladder, but in more serious cases may affect the ureters or kidneys. A urinary tract infection, or UTI, may be be mild and easily treatable with antibiotics if detected early, but potentially serious with long-term effects if the infection spreads to the kidneys. The most effective treatment, however, is preventing an infection from beginning.

There are many things a person can do that may reduce the risk of developing a UTI. The overall goal of all of these methods is to reduce the amount of harmful bacteria near the entrance of the urethra. Some options include:

  • Drink water – Drinking any type of fluid will encourage urination, which may help force bacteria out of the urinary tract. Water has the added benefit of diluting urine. If a UTI has already begun, diluted urine may be less painful to pass.

  • Drink cranberry juice – Studies are inconclusive about the efficacy of this method, but it does not seem to be harmful. The highly acidic juice may counteract bacteria in the urinary tract and will definitely promote urination. Opt for 100% cranberry juice instead of a sugary cranberry juice cocktail.

  • Wipe from front to back – This tip is particularly beneficial for females, since without the added distance of a penis, the urethra and anus are very near one another. After urinating or defecating, wiping front to back, away from the urethra, may reduce the risk of bacteria from the anus travelling to the urethra.

  • Urinate soon after sexual contact – Any touching of the genital area may spread bacteria around, increasing the potential for bacteria to make its way to the urethra. Urinating may help flush this foreign bacteria out of the urinary tract. Drinking a glass of water shortly after sexual contact will not only promote urination, but may help keep you hydrated after potentially rigorous activity.

  • Choose feminine products wisely – Some feminine hygiene products may irritate the genital area, increasing the possibility of bacterial production. Scented hygiene products, deodorizing sprays, and douches may all irritate this sensitive area, and the moist warmth of maxi pads may breed bacteria.

  • Choose your birth control methods wisely – Certain contraceptives may irritate the genital area, such as spermicidal lubricants or unlubricated condoms. Diaphragms and Nuvarings may encourage bacterial growth in the vaginal area, which may spread bacteria to the urethra.

If you believe you may have a UTI, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get the proper treatment.

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