By Yolanda Smith, BPharm
The prevention of urinary tract infection is important, particularly for those individuals that are frequently affected by an infection. There are several areas that can help to prevent bacteria from proliferating in the urinary tract and causing an infection.
The include using the toilet, sexual activity, general hygiene and water consumption, each of which is discussed in more detail below.
The way the genital area is cleaned after going to the toilet is of utmost importance to prevent an infection. The area can be washed with water or wiped with toilet paper.
If using toilet paper, it is essential that wipes start at the front and move to the back. For more than one wipe, a new piece of toilet paper should be used each time to avoid the transfer of bacteria from the back to the front.
It is also important to empty the bladder frequently and avoid long intervals without urinating. This is because the bacteria have a longer window of opportunity to move up the ureters to the bladder where the infection can proliferate. It is recommended to urinate at least every four hours, even if there is no urge to urinate.
Sexually active women are more likely to get a urinary tract infection than those that are not sexually active and, therefore, preventative methods during some sexual activities may be beneficial. In particular, intercourse that involves the anal area is likely to result in the transfer of bacteria to the urinary tract.
To prevent this, it is best to work from front to back, and not in reverse. Using condoms and changing the condom when moving from the anus back to the vagina can also help. Additionally, making sure to urinate after sexual activity is beneficial.
Good hygiene practices may be helpful in the prevention of urinary tract infections. This is largely because some bacteria that some reside in the anal region have the potential to cause an infection of the urinary tract if they are transferred to the urethra. This can happen easily, as the anus and the urethra are positioned anatomically close to each other.
Long baths are associated with a higher risk of infection, due to the possibility of bacteria from the anal area moving into the water and into the urethra. Instead, showers are recommended for individuals that are frequently affected by UTIs.
Additionally, sanitary napkins used when a woman is menstruating can promote the growth of bacteria and may lead to a UTI. To prevent this, using tampons or making sure to change the sanitary napkin frequently may help. Tight fitting clothes can have the same effect, creating conditions that promote bacterial growth and should be avoided.
Drinking more water ensures that the urinary tract is always working and pushing urine and any bacteria present through and out of the body. Sufficient water intake is indicated by very pale yellow colored urine and is a simple step to help prevent UTI.
Cranberry juice also seems to prevent infections in some people, although there is not strong evidence for this.
Last Updated: Jun 14, 2015