Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are common ailments for many women. A UTI typically occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra and multiplies in the blatter. An infection can occur anywhere in the urinary system, including the urethra, ureters, bladder, and kidneys. The symptoms often include burning and frequent urination.
While treating UTIs typically involves a course of antibiotics, the better option is to keep from getting them. In this blog, Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, explains five tips that might help keep you from getting a UTI.
What causes UTIs?
One of the biggest reasons women get more UTIs than men is because women have a shorter urethra. The reason this puts women at a higher risk is because the urethra — which is the tube that takes urine from the bladder to the outside of the body — is close to the anus. Because of this, bacteria can travel from the anus into the urethra and cause an infection.
Other factors can also contribute to the development of UTIs, including genetic factors, a weak immune system, hormone changes, and having certain conditions, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
Here are five things you can do to help reduce your chances of getting a UTI:
1. Drink lots of water
Doctors are always telling you to drink a lot of water for good reason: It’s good for so many aspects of your health to be well-hydrated. But, it can also help prevent UTIs, especially frequent or recurring UTIs, by flushing bad bacteria out of your system before it has a chance to take root in your urinary tract.
2. Wipe the correct way
One of the best things you can do to prevent UTIs is to wipe the right way after using the bathroom. Make sure that you always wipe front to back. Wiping front to back will help take bacteria away from the opening to your urethra. Wiping the other way could introduce bacteria into your urethra.
3. Urinate after sex
Sex can irritate the urinary tract, so it’s important to get up and use the bathroom as soon as possible after having sex. Health specialists also recemmend that women wash the area prior to having sex, so there will be less of a chance of bacteria in the area being introduced into the urethra.
4. Avoid using irritating feminine products
Many cases of urinary tract infections, especially recurring ones, can be caused by using irritating feminine hygiene products. These products include douches, vaginal deodorant sprays or wipes, and powders. Many women find scented products particularly irritating.
Another thing you may want to consider is your choice of everyday underwear. Cotton underwear can allow the genital area to “breathe,” especially compared to nylon and other synthetic fabrics that can irritate the region and trap bacteria.
5. Consider your methods of birth control and menstrual care
Certain birth control methods are more likely to contribute to urinary tract infections. Generally, the problematic methods of birth control include the contraceptive sponge, diaphragms, spermicides, and spermicide condoms. If you have already evaluated your other habits and options and you’re still getting UTIs, your birth control method may be to blame.
Menstrual care products can also be a contributing factor in UTIs. The menstrual cup, while not commonly used, can introduce bacteria into your urinary tract. You may also find that scented tampons or pads may be more irritating than unscented alternatives.
If you get frequent UTIs — which is more than a couple of times a year — we can help. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with the office of Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, today.