Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common bacterial infection diagnosed in women. In fact, more than 50% of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are also the most common cause of gross hematuria, which is where blood is visible in your urine. Here are simple steps every woman can take to help prevent this common infection.
1) Drink plenty of fluids.
Women who drink less than 1.5 liters of water a day have a 50% increased chance of developing a UTI. By increasing your daily fluid intake, you can decrease your risk of getting a UTI, which also decreases your need for oral antibiotics.
2) Urinate before and after intercourse.
UTIs are related to sexual activity because, during intercourse, bacteria from the perineum get pushed up against the urethra (the small tube that leads to the bladder). A good fact about the urinary system is that urinating before and after intercourse flushes the unwanted bacteria away before it has the chance to cause an infection.
3) Take a preventive antibiotic.
Women who continue to get UTIs after intercourse despite taking the above precautions may be candidates for antibiotic prophylaxis, where a single dose of an antibiotic is taken after intercourse each time to prevent an infection from developing.
4) Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
Wiping from back to front can transfer bacteria from the anus and rectum closer to the urethral opening, making a UTI more likely to develop. Wiping from front to back pushes unwanted bacteria away from the urethral opening.
5) Urinate at least every four hours.
Women who go more than four hours without urinating have an increased risk of developing a UTI, as voiding infrequently gives bacteria more time to accumulate in the bladder, which can lead to a kidney infection. Urinating at least every four hours ensures that any unwanted bacteria are flushed out of the bladder before it causes an infection.
6) Take a cranberry supplement.
A mistake many women make is beginning a cranberry supplement or drinking cranberry juice after they’ve developed symptoms of a UTI. Cranberry products have no confirmed effect on treating UTIs once they develop, but there is some evidence that they can help prevent UTIs if they’re taken on a regular basis because cranberries contain proanthocyanidins (PACs), which prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.
Note: It’s important to take a cranberry supplement rather than drinking cranberry juice because cranberry juice doesn’t contain a high enough concentration of PACs to be beneficial.
At GoHealth Urgent Care, we offer an on-site urinalysis test, which can give you results in less than five minutes! If you have symptoms of a UTI, or if there’s anything else we can do to help you feel better today, click here to save your spot:
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant