Urinary Tract Infections, A.K.A UTIs are literally the worst. They’re like hell on earth. Think pelvic pain, needing to pee every few seconds – oh and the burning! Ugh. If you’re a sexually active woman, chances are you’ve experienced a UTI at least once. That’s because according to the National Institute of Health, between 40 and 50 percent of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this dreadful infection.
UTIs happen when bacteria contaminates the urethra. But according to Dr. Dana Rice, a board certified urologist and founder of the genius app, UTI Tracker, there are plenty of ways of avoiding a UTI all together. Here she breaks down a few vulnerable habits to cut out and simple hygiene tweaks that will immediately change your urinary life!
Remember that safe sex is key. “Safe sexual practice is the number one priority,” says Dr. Rice. “Avoiding sexually transmitted disease, adequate vaginal lubrication, and, if engaging in anal sex, you need to cleanse prior to changing to vaginal intercourse.”
Practice good hygiene – always. “The best prevention for UTI is water intake and timed voiding,” says Dr. Rice. Washing or just rinsing the vagina with water before and after intercourse is helpful as it helps to flush out bacteria, but making sure to urinate before and after intercourse is even more important. Also make sure to always wipe front to back and not back to front, to avoid bacteria from the rectum or anus area making its way towards the vagina or urethra.
Keep your panties clean. “Traditionally, it was thought that cotton underwear was better for UTI prevention. This is not always the case,” Dr. Rice says. “Regular washing of underwear and wearing of clean dry underwear is more important than the fabric choice.” But she does point out that if you have sensitive skin, you still might want to avoid certain fabrics that can cause irritation. Also, just a heads up – thongs aren’t ideal because the g-string can chafe the rectum and anus and carry that bacteria towards your vagina and urethra, leading to an infection.
Drink up that H20. There are a million reasons why we all should be consuming lots of water, but UTI prevention is definitely one. Drinking plenty of water helps flush the urinary systems and prevents urine from becoming too concentrated. “I recommend that patients drink enough water to keep their urine clear by lunchtime (or midday equivalent) and then only drink when they are thirsty in the afternoon,” Dr. Rice adds. “This helps account for daily changing volumes.”
Chill with the caffeine. If you’re suspecting you already have a UTI, try to avoid caffeine, to not further irritate your bladder, intensifying the burning feeling.
Choose your lube wisely. “Many women mistake external irritation for a UTI. A UTI is a culture-based diagnosis,” she says. “Urethral or bladder irritation can occur without a bacterial infection. It is always important to test products in small quantities prior to full use,” adds Rice, who advises patients use a water-base lubricant or coconut oil to avoid infection or irritation. “I recommend staying away from anything that smells, lights up, heats or has flavor.”
Take probiotics. “Probiotics is an excellent supplement for UTI prevention,” says Dr. Rice. Probiotics help to restore the natural bacterial environment to make it hard for bad bacteria to cause infections.
Take natural supplements like D-Mannose. “D-Mannose is a very good preventative treatment for UTIs. Many UTIs can be cleared naturally or are transient in nature,” says Rice. “Some people are colonized with bacteria in the urine and do not need to be with antibiotics at all. It is important to realize that antibiotic overuse can lead to many medical problems and so-called “super bugs” therefore alternative options can be quite good.” Try Clear Tract. You can find it on Amazon or at your local health food store.
Use the UTI Tracker app. “This app is an online medical aide for patients with UTIs, overactive bladder and voiding dysfunction,” says Rice who invented the app. “It has an education center explaining what the GU tract is and how it functions. There are tips and tricks for prevention and treatment, a voiding diary, and timed voiding alarms.” The UTI Tracker app even gives you the option to log in your symptoms and email them directly to your doctor.