Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can happen to anyone, but women are more likely to suffer these painful infections than men, due in part to anatomy. Bacteria in your bladder or urethra commonly cause UTIs, but infection can develop anywhere in your urinary system, including the kidneys or ureters.
UTIs often cause pelvic pain and the persistent urge to urinate, making them impossible to ignore. The good news is that treatment often eliminates the infection and symptoms within a few days. If you find yourself with a UTI, call Daniel McDonald, MD, Marc Wilson, MD, and our team at OB/GYN Specialists.
Most women experience at least one UTI during their lifetime. Some factors, like sexual activity or menopause, make it more likely that you’ll experience recurrent UTIs, but these tips can help reduce your risk of these uncomfortable, bothersome infections.
Drinking enough water throughout the day is important for overall health, but it can also help to prevent a UTI. The amount of water you need each day varies depending on your body and activity level, but aim for 6-8 glasses a day. When you’re hydrated, you have to urinate frequently, and bacteria is washed from the bladder and urethra.
Choose water whenever possible, but sparkling water and decaffeinated tea are also healthy choices. Cranberry juice contains compounds that may reduce bacterial overgrowth to help prevent UTIs. If you get recurring UTIs, consider avoiding fluids that irritate the bladder, like alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
Don’t put off visiting the bathroom
Holding in urine rather than relieving yourself when you feel the urge can contribute to harmful bacteria growth. Visit the bathroom at least every 3-4 hours to discourage bacterial growth and flush urine from your system.
Urinating before and after having sex can decrease your risk of developing a UTI, too. Sexual intercourse can increase the bacteria around your urethra, but urinating before and after flushes out the area to help prevent a UTI.
Whenever you use the toilet, wipe from front to back. Bacteria that cause UTIs, particularly E. coli, live near the anus and wiping from front to back decreases the risk of these bacteria reaching your urethra.
Rethink your birth control
Some types of birth control may contribute to bacterial overgrowth and recurrent UTIs. Diaphragms, spermicidal products, and non-lubricated condoms could cause your UTIs because they change bacteria in your vagina, so talk to our team about other effective options for birth control.
Similarly, irritating feminine products can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria inside your vagina. Avoid using scented pads, tampons, soaps, or powders. When cleaning your genital area, use gentle, unscented cleansers.
Consider vaginal estrogen
After menopause, your body makes less estrogen. Lower estrogen levels trigger changes in the urinary tract, making UTIs a common problem for women as they get older. If you get recurrent UTIs, vaginal estrogen supplements could help prevent future infections.
Topical estrogen is available in creams, gels, and vaginal suppositories. We prescribe a hormone dosage appropriate for your symptoms, to boost estrogen levels and reduce harmful bacteria overgrowth.
Recurrent UTIs aren’t normal, and you shouldn’t have to live with pelvic pain and discomfort. Schedule an appointment at OB/GYN Specialists to find out how you can stop UTIs. Call our Denton, Texas office at 940-202-0566, or send us a message online today.