At some point in your life, you’re likely to get a urinary tract infection. Bacteria will make their way into the tubes that connect your kidneys to your bladder and the outside world, set up residence, and start causing all kinds of problems.
These infections – sometimes abbreviated UTIs – can affect both men and women, although they are more common in the latter. And when you get one, you certainly know about it! They’re painful and usually require a trip to your local urologist to fix them.
The good news, though, is that there’s a lot that you can do to avoid UTIs entirely. In many cases, they are a preventable disease.
The most common type of UTI is cystitis. The most common cause is E. coli bacteria migrating from the intestinal tract.
You can also develop urethritis which is a condition that a range of sexually transmitted viruses and bacteria can cause.
So what kind of things can you do to prevent UTIs and keep your waterworks healthy? Here’s some advice.
Drink Plenty Of Fluids
Even if disease-causing germs get into your bladder, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will cause infection. Your body has some quite sophisticated defenses against the disease that will protect you.
However, if you’re dehydrated, your defenses are less effective. The bladder is filling and emptying less frequently. And because of that, it’s not washing out any germs that might have found their way into the interior.
You can fight back against this by drinking plenty of fluids and keeping yourself well hydrated throughout the day. Try to drink at least two liters of water per day, spread evenly throughout to ensure that your bladder empties regularly. Remember, the goal is to flush out germs before they have a chance to become established.
Wipe Front To Back
Women are at higher risk of developing UTIs because of the short distance from the anus to the vagina. Bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract, like E.coli, make their way up the urethra and into the bladder where they cause infection.
Knowing this, it’s a good idea to wipe front to back when you go for a number two. This way, you shift any bacteria away from your vagina, reducing your risk.
Drink Berry Juices, Particularly Cranberry
Cranberries and cranberry juices appear to inhibit the action of germs that cause UTIs in the body. The results of studies are not yet conclusive, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that consuming this food – and perhaps other types of berry – may offer some protective benefits.
Empty Your Bladder After Sex
A lot of UTIs comes from unprotected sex both with your partner and with others outside of a formal relationship. E.coli and other bacteria on the other person can enter your body and cause infections, as discussed above.
If you expect that you’re going to have sex, you may wish to increase your fluid intake slightly beforehand. This way, you should be ready to pee after you finish, flushing out any bacteria that might have been passed to you.
Use Different Birth Control Methods
Some birth control methods are associated with a higher risk of UTIs. For instance, spermicidal condoms that have been treated with special chemicals to kill sperm cells can lead to bacteria growth. So too can diaphragms.
If you get repeated UTIs, you might consider moving over to the pill or using alternative birth control methods until you’re ready for a baby.
Don’t Douche Or Use Feminine Products
Douching and feminine products promising to keep things sanitary down there can seem like tempting options. But, unless you have an infection, the body is perfectly able to self-clean and regulate.
Douching and other cleaning practices can actually increase the likelihood of bacterial infections by disturbing the delicate balance of bacteria in the vagina.
It’s important to note that you can never quite reduce the risk of UTIs to zero. Urinary tract infections are something that you will likely encounter at some point in your life.
For women, the risks are higher because of anatomical reasons. Women have shorter urethras and openings closer to the gastrointestinal tract.
Sexually active women are also at a higher risk of developing the disease, especially when sleeping with multiple partners.
The good news is that you can reduce your risk of developing the condition through some pretty simple lifestyle changes. Just drinking more water and changing the way you visit the bathroom can all make a big difference and help you avoid pain.
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