Can urinary tract infections be prevented?

There are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing a urinary tract infection:

  • Follow good hygiene practices of the genital area (especially women). After a bowel movement, the genitals should be wiped from front to back to reduce the chance of dragging E. coli bacteria from the rectal area to the urethra.
  • Urinate frequently. This flushes bacteria out of the bladder and may reduce the risk of cystitis in those who are prone to urinary tract infections. Drinking plenty of fluids encourages frequent urination. Avoid fluids and foods that irritate the bladder, such as alcohol, citrus juices, drinks containing caffeine and spicy foods. Also avoid smoking during this time.
  • Urinate immediately before and after sex. This may help flush out bacteria that may have been introduced during intercourse. Wash the genital area with warm water before having sex.
  • Apply an estrogen-containing vaginal cream in post-menopausal women to reduce the risk of a urinary tract infection. Your physician will decide with you if this is something that may benefit you. The estrogen cream changes the pH of the vagina to make one less susceptible to infections.
  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day
  • Don't douche
  • Don't use feminine deodorants on your genital area
  • Change tampons and feminine pads often
  • Use a water-based lubricant during sex if you have vaginal dryness
  • Check with your doctor if you think your diaphragm is causing infection
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Take showers instead of baths
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing and pantyhose

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