Seven tips to avoid urinary tract infections

About a fifth of women will get such an infection at least once in their lives

Ensuring you drink plenty of water throughout the day may decrease your risk of getting a urinary tract infection. Photograph: iStock

Ensuring you drink plenty of water throughout the day may decrease your risk of getting a urinary tract infection. Photograph: iStock

 

Go to the loo

Ensuring you drink plenty of water throughout the day may decrease your risk of getting a urinary tract infection.Take regular trips to the toilet to empty your bladder. “Holding it in” may result in bacteria having the opportunity to multiply in your urinary tract, giving you an increased risk of infection.

Urinate after sex

Women should be encouraged to empty their bladder after sex. Bacteria can be introduced to the urinary tract during foreplay or sexual intercourse, which should be expelled before the bacteria are allowed to multiply and cause an infection. Additionally, think about what type of contraception you are using – some people find using spermicides can increase infections, as can diaphragms.

D-Mannose

D-Mannose is a natural sugar thought to aid in the removal of E.coli during a urinary tract infection and stop the infection in its tracks. Recent, small studies have looked at the use of D-Mannose oral powder and compared it with prophylactic antibiotics, and have shown promising results.

See a doctor

If you are experiencing urinary tract infection symptoms (such as pain on urination, or increased frequency), you should see a doctor, particularly if you suffer from recurring infections. You may need a course of antibiotics or possibly an ultrasound scan to investigate the cause of the recurring infection. For example, it could be due to an anatomical abnormality or an inability to fully empty your bladder. A weakened immune system could be causing the repeat infections, which would need further investigation.

Stay clean

After visiting the toilet, wiping from back to front can increase the risk of getting an infection, as you could introduce faecal bacteria into the urinary tract. However, overcleaning is not the answer, as using too many products can alter your flora and raise the risk of getting an infection.

Take special care after the menopause

Oestrogen is believed to be protective against urinary tract infections via a variety of mechanisms, meaning that menopausal women with declining oestrogen may be vulnerable to such infections. In a meta-analysis of five randomised controlled trials, it was found that topical vaginal oestrogen was beneficial in reducing infections in post-menopausal women.

Eat cranberries

Cranberries and cranberry juice have long been suggested as treatments. But studies have shown mixed data on how successful they are. Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, believed to prevent bacteria from “clinging on” inside your bladder. But cranberry juice may not be that useful, as it can be minimal in actual cranberry content and full of sugar and additives instead – so make sure you get cranberries in a raw form if you want to try this method. If you try a vodka and cranberry while you have a urinary tract infection, be aware that the alcohol may irritate your bladder and bring you back to square one with the symptoms. –Guardian