If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, you’ll know how uncomfortable they can be – the constant urgent need to go to the bathroom, the burning sensation when you pee. You’ll also likely know how frustrating it can be when they keep coming back.
The urinary tract is made up of two kidneys, two ureters (the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder, the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder) and the prostate (in men).
UTIs are ubiquitous, especially in women. They are usually confined to the urethra and bladder and are easily treated. However, early management is necessary to avoid the infection spreading to the kidneys, which can be much more serious.
While your body does everything it can to fight off infections of all kinds, there are several things you can do to help avoid urinary tract infections altogether. Most are simple lifestyle-related measures that are easy to implement in your daily life and are great for overall urinary health.
While UTIs are more common in women, many of the tips below are relevant to both sexes. Let’s take a look!
It is a rule of thumb that you should drink 2 to 3 litres of water every day to stay in good health. Maintaining a healthy intake of fluids helps flush bacteria and toxins out of your body and can reduce the risk of UTIs. Cranberry juice has also been known to reduce the risk of urinary infections, although this has not been medically proven.
For women, this means always wiping from the front to the back after using the bathroom. This way, you minimise the risk of any bacteria making its way from the rectum to the urinary tract. Always wash thoroughly and avoid baths as they can encourage bacteria to reach the urinary tract. Use tampons instead of pads as they limit the chance of bacteria spreading. Also, be sure to urinate and wash after intercourse.
Tight underwear made from suffocating materials can contribute to the risk of UTIs. Cotton underwear is recommended for daily use. Also, try and avoid tight-fitting jeans – opt for clothing that breathes well and promotes a dry genital area. Lastly, avoid spending too much time in a wet swimsuit.
Diaphragms and spermicidal lubricants both contribute to bacterial growth and increase the risk of UTIs. Instead, use water-based lubricants, and reconsider using a diaphragm if you are prone to infections.
Feminine hygiene products such as douches, sprays and powders can upset the balance of protective bacteria found around the genitals that fend off infection. This can promote bacterial growth and increase the risk of UTIs.
If you have any further questions about urinary health or UTIs and would like to book an appointment, please feel free to call.
Dr Arianayagam is a highly skilled urological surgeon who treats cancers and other disorders of the urinary system.
After training in NSW further training in Urologic Oncology, he was undertaken at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He completed a two-year fellowship accredited by the Society of Urologic Oncology.
Learn about some other health issues Dr Arianayagam can help resolve:
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