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How Can Women Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?

Essential tips for women's health to prevent urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) represent the most prevalent bacterial infection among women, affecting over half of all women at some point in their lives. The higher incidence of UTIs in women can be attributed to anatomical differences; specifically, the female urethra is shorter and located nearer to the anal area, facilitating the entry and migration of harmful bacteria toward the bladder.

UTIs can cause significant discomfort, with symptoms ranging from a persistent urge to urinate and a burning sensation during urination to more severe manifestations such as gross hematuria, where blood is visibly present in the urine. However, there are several effective strategies women can employ to prevent UTIs and maintain urinary health.

Hydration: The First Line of Defence

One of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent UTIs is to drink plenty of fluids, particularly water. Staying hydrated helps to flush out bacteria from the urinary tract, reducing the risk of infection.

Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water per day. Drinking fluids like cranberry juice can also be beneficial, as cranberry contains compounds that may prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract.

Proper Hygiene Practices

Maintaining good personal hygiene is important in preventing UTIs. Women should wipe from front to back after using the toilet to prevent bacteria from the anal area from spreading to the urethra.

Additionally, it’s important to wash the genital area before and after sexual intercourse. Using gentle, unscented soap and water is recommended to avoid irritation.

Urinate Frequently and Fully

Holding urine for extended periods can increase the risk of bacteria growth in the bladder. Women should make it a habit to urinate when they feel the need and ensure the bladder is fully emptied each time. This helps to expel any bacteria present in the urinary tract.

Clothing Choices Matter

Wearing breathable, cotton underwear can help reduce the risk of urinary tract bladder infection. Tight-fitting clothing, such as skinny jeans, can trap moisture and create a breeding ground for bacteria. Opt for loose-fitting clothes and change out of wet swimsuits and sweaty workout clothes promptly to keep the genital area dry.

Be Cautious with Feminine Products

Certain feminine hygiene products, such as douches, powders and deodorant sprays, can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the genital area and irritate the urethra. It’s best to avoid these products and instead focus on regular washing with water and mild soap.

Sexual Activity Precautions

Sexual activity can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract, leading to urinary tract bladder infection. To minimise this risk, women should urinate before and after sexual intercourse to help flush out any bacteria. Using lubrication can also reduce friction and irritation during sex, which can help prevent infections.

Dietary Considerations

Diet can play a role in urinary health. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries, nuts and green leafy vegetables, can boost the immune system and help prevent infections. Additionally, incorporating probiotics, such as yoghurt and fermented foods, into the diet can promote healthy bacteria in the body, including the urinary tract.

Manage Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can increase the risk of UTIs. Women with such conditions should work closely with their healthcare providers to manage their health effectively. Maintaining good blood sugar control, for instance, can reduce the likelihood of developing UTIs.

Consider Prophylactic Antibiotics

For women who experience frequent UTIs, a healthcare provider may recommend prophylactic antibiotics. These are low-dose antibiotics taken regularly to prevent infections. This approach should be discussed thoroughly with a healthcare provider to understand the benefits and risks.

Stay Informed and Consult Healthcare Providers

Knowledge is power when it comes to preventing UTIs. Women should stay informed about their health and consult healthcare providers for personalised advice and treatment options. Regular check-ups and open communication with a healthcare provider can help in the early detection and management of any underlying issues that might contribute to UTIs.

Natural Remedies and Supplements

Several natural remedies and supplements have been suggested to help prevent UTIs. While these should not replace medical treatment, they can be used as complementary measures:

  • Cranberry Extract: As mentioned, cranberry can help prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls. Cranberry extract supplements are an alternative to juice.
  • D-Mannose: This sugar is thought to prevent E. coli bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract lining.
  • Probiotics: Lactobacillus, a type of probiotic, may help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the urinary tract.
  • Vitamin C: This vitamin can make urine more acidic, which might inhibit bacterial growth.

Get Prompt Treatment For UTI at Touchwood Pharmacy

Preventing UTIs involves a combination of lifestyle changes, hygiene practices, dietary adjustments and medical interventions. With the right approach, women can take control of their health and prevent the discomfort and complications associated with UTIs. 

Our dedicated team offers expert advice and quick access to treatment for minor ailments like UTIs without the need for a GP appointment. Save time and get the care you need directly from our experienced pharmacists. Book an appointment at Touchwood Pharmacy today and experience the benefits of Pharmacy First.