If you’ve experienced the unpleasantness of a urinary tract infection (UTI), you’re not alone. The National Kidney Foundation estimates that this uncomfortable condition is responsible for more than 10 million trips to the doctor every year.
At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, we understand the frustration and discomfort UTIs can bring. Our team of highly skilled OB/GYN practitioners has extensive experience helping women in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia, navigate the treatment of this painful infection. We offer comprehensive gynecological care to ensure your overall health and well-being.
Our team also knows that prevention can be the best medicine. We’ve curated this helpful guide to provide you with our top five tips for preventing UTIs.
What is a UTI?
A UTI, or urinary tract infection, occurs when you get an infection in any part of your urinary system. It’s sometimes called a bladder infection, but UTIs can occur in your kidneys, urethra, and ureters, too.
Women are at a much higher risk for developing UTIs than men. In fact, about 60% of all women will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime, with many women experiencing multiple or recurring infections.
Symptoms of a UTI include feeling the need to urinate frequently, a burning sensation when urinating, cloudy, dark, or bloody urine, and pain or pressure in your lower abdomen. While UTIs are treatable, it’s important to seek care sooner rather than later. Untreated UTIs can cause complications, such as kidney infections or damage to your kidneys.
How can I prevent UTIs from occurring?
About 90% of UTIs are caused by the same type of bacteria — E. coli. This bacteria naturally lives in your intestinal tract. When it comes in contact with the urinary tract system, however, an infection can result.
The good news is that simple changes in hygiene and lifestyle can help stop many UTIs before they start. Here are our top five tips for preventing UTIs:
1. Wash before and after sex
In women, UTIs most commonly occur when bacteria from the rectum enters the vagina. By washing your genitals before and after sex, you can help stop this from happening. Use warm water and mild soap. Be sure to avoid scented soaps and douches, which can cause irritation.
2. Urinate after sex
It sounds simple, but simply visiting the bathroom after sex could save you from an unpleasant UTI. This is because urinating after sex can help flush out any bacteria that entered the urethra. Try to go as soon as possible after sexual intercourse.
3. Stay hydrated
The easiest way to avoid a UTI is to stay hydrated. By drinking lots of water, you’ll flush bacteria out of the bladder and urinary tract before it can take root and cause an infection. And by staying well-hydrated, you’ll urinate more frequently, which means there will be less of a chance of an infection setting in.
Along with water, try drinking a glass of cranberry juice each day. Cranberries have a natural compound that helps keep problematic bacteria from sticking to your urinary tract. You can get the same benefits from eating cranberries as well. Just be sure to choose options with no or low sugar.
4. Wipe front to back
Because of the close proximity of the female urinary tract to the rectum, women are at a much higher risk of developing UTIs. Be sure to wipe front to back after using the bathroom, and always use a separate piece of toilet paper to wipe your rectum.
5. Don’t hold your urine
It’s important not to postpone trips to the bathroom when you feel the urge to go. It’s not harmful to hold it for a few minutes, but holding your urine for long periods of time can give bacteria a chance to build up. By urinating when you feel the urge to go, you’ll help ensure that UTI-causing bacteria can’t take root in the bladder.
If you think you might have a UTI, our compassionate care team can accurately diagnose and treat your infection to alleviate your pain. To get treatment or learn more about preventing UTIs, book an appointment online or over the phone with Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare today.