Five Ways To Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) are one of the most common infections patients experience.  Women are nearly four times more likely to get a UTI than men, because women’s urethras are shorter than men’s, and closer to the anus, which is filled with bacteria that can track up the urethra and cause an infection in the bladder and kidneys.  Here are five steps patients can take to prevent this common infection.

1. Drink at least 1.5 liters of fluids a day.

A recent study showed that women who drank at least 1.5 liters of water a day decreased their risk of getting a UTI by nearly 50%!  Focusing on hydration is helpful in UTI prevention because the fluid dilutes bacteria that collects in the bladder, and flushes it out before it can replicate enough to become an infection.

2. Urinate at least every 4 hours.

Patients who go more than 4 hours without urinating run the risk of having bacteria collect in the bladder and infect the bladder lining (called cystitis) or even track up the ureters to the kidneys, causing a more serious infection (called pyelonephritis).  Urinating frequently has been shown to be an effective way of eliminating the bacteria before it can cause an infection.

3. Avoid vaginal deodorants and douches.

Many women think that applying vaginal deodorants or using douches is a healthy way to “clean” the vaginal area and prevent vaginal infections and UTI’s.  But the opposite is true! These products actually irritate the urethra and make women more likely to contract a urinary tract infection.

4. Urinate before and after sex.

Because bacteria from the colon often gets onto the perineum (the space between the urethra and the anus), sexual intercourse frequently causes a UTI because it pushes bacteria into the urethra, where it travels into, and infects, the bladder.  Patients can dramatically decrease intercourse-related UTIs by washing the perineum with soap and water and urinating before intercourse, and urinating after intercourse as well.

5. Seek medical attention if you have UTI symptoms.

Symptoms of a bladder include burning with urination, urinary frequency, blood in the urine, and urgency.  If you have any of these symptoms, no matter how mild, it’s wise to have a medical evaluation as soon as possible.  If you do have a UTI, starting an antibiotic quickly ensures that the infection won’t progress to a more serious condition like pyelonephritis (a kidney infection), bacteremia or sepsis.

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At Golden Gate Urgent Care, we have six Bay Area locations, open seven days a week, to care for you! If you have UTI symptoms, or any other illness or injury, make an appointment online or simply walk in to get prompt, excellent medical care.

Author
Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on MSNBC.com. She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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