How You Can Prevent A UTI
Your urinary system is designed to block bacteria, but sometimes bacteria makes its way through and turns into an infection within the urinary tract. Women have a greater risk of developing a UTI because bacteria can reach the bladder quickly, since the female urethra is about 1.5 inches in length. Women typically get cystitis, a UTI in the bladder, or urethritis, a UTI in the urethra.
What Are the Symptoms of a UTI?
Symptoms of a UTI will not always be immediately evident, but there are some common symptoms that can alert you:
- A strong urge to urinate.
- A burning sensation when urinating.
- Frequently urinating a small amount.
- Cloudy urine.
- Pink, red, or “cola” colored urine—indicating blood in the urine.
- Strong-smelling urine.
- Pelvic pain.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. If left untreated, your UTI can turn into a full-blown kidney infection, causing fever, back, and groin pain, and frequent urination.
What Are the Risk Factors?
- Sexual behavior: Recent or frequent sexual activity is the most important and leading risk factor for a UTI. About 80% of all UTIs in young women are contracted within 24 hours after having sex. A UTI is NOT a sexually transmitted disease, but the act of having sex creates an environment that allows the UTI bacteria to enter.
- Menopause: A significant amount of estrogen loss thins the walls of your urinary tract and reduces the ability to resist bacteria.
- Pregnancy: You’ll have an increased risk of getting a UTI starting in week six of your pregnancy through week 24. As your uterus grows, its weight can block the drainage of urine—causing an infection.
- Allergies: Allergic reactions to ingredients in feminine care products and toiletries allow bacteria to enter your body, increasing the risk.
How to Prevent It
Preventing a UTI is simple and easy. Here are daily activities you can do to combat the infection:
- Drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Consuming this amount of fluids helps dilute your urine, ensures you’ll urinate frequently, and flushes out bacteria.
- Wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from spreading to your vagina and urethra.
- Make it a habit to urinate as soon as you need to and empty your bladder before and after having sex.
- Avoid potentially irritating care products.
- Change underwear or diapers every day.
- Avoid wearing tight pants.
How to Treat It
Antibiotics prescribed by your doctor are usually the first line of defense for urinary tract infections. The type of antibiotic varies depending on the type of bacteria found in your urine.