When we feel the first signs of a UTI, all we want to do is make those annoying, painful symptoms go away. For some, UTIs come once, maybe twice in a lifetime. For those rare occasions, simply treating the UTI with antibiotics is enough. But for some of us who suffer from recurring UTIs (sometimes as often as once every few months), overusing antibiotics can be a bad thing.
Simple ways to prevent UTIs
When we understand what causes a UTI in the first place, we can take appropriate preventative measures, such as:
The more water you drink, the more often you need to urinate. That means your urinary tract is continuously being flushed of potentially harmful bacteria which prevents it from attaching to the tissue and causing an infection.
Wear cotton underwear
Heat and moisture create a favorable environment for bacteria to grow. Because cotton is a natural fabric, it allows air to circulate which dissipates heat and wicks away moisture.
Don't wear pants that are too tight
For the same reason as the point above, wearing tight pants traps heat and moisture around your nether regions.
Change your feminine hygiene products often
Again, same reason. It can get a little hot and sweaty down there when Aunt Flo comes to town. Replacing your pads or tampons often prevents those pesky bacteria from getting too comfortable.
And if you have a tendency to forget, it might be worth putting an alarm on your phone to make sure.
Wipe from front to back
Women are more prone to UTIs because the anus is located quite close to the urethra. When you go to the bathroom, make sure you always wipe from front to back (and use that paper once per swipe!) so that you don't spread any harmful bacteria.
Pee before and after sex
For a similar reason as the tip above, peeing flushes out any harmful bacteria that might have been spread around while you were doing the deed.
Regardless of all these tips which can help, it is still estimated that approximately 25% of women suffer from recurring UTIs. In these cases, the preventative measures above are simply not enough.
Preventing chronic or recurring UTIs
There are several underlying causes for recurring urinary tract infections, some of which are completely outside our control like diabetes and hormonal changes. For a long time, sufferers of urinary tracts infections were prescribed daily low doses of antibiotics, but these came with some unfortunate side effects: upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, and yeast infections are the most common. In addition, this dependence on antibiotics actually helps the bad bacteria by enabling it to become immune.
There does exist a natural alternative: the cranberry. There's a special bioactive compound found inside the cranberry that's been clinically proven to be effective in preventing recurring UTIs*. They're called proanthocyanidins.
However, the fruit itself, cranberry juice and even some supplements don't have the required amount in order to be effective.