Urinary tract infections are never fun, and if you’re prone to them or have gotten a few in recent months, you might be on the lookout for ways to minimize your risk going forward. While there are immune and genetic factors that play a role in your risk for UTIs, there are also practical habits that can impact your urinary health that you can keep an eye on.
UTIs are caused by bacteria in the urinary tract, which is more likely to affect women than men due to their naturally shorter urethras. There are also lifestyle habits specific to women that can impact UTI risk, but anyone can get a UTI just like anyone can work to avoid them.
Little changes have the capability to make big differences, but if you notice that constant UTIs persist, talk to your doctor about possible tests and solutions. However, you may find that making a few simple changes can help reduce your risk of UTIs.
When you drink more water, your urine is less concentrated and more diluted. It also makes you urinate more often so that bacteria can regularly escape your urinary tract, which lowers your risk of infection.
It’s more about urination than hydration, but both are good for you.
Holding your bladder can trap bacteria in your urinary tract and raise your risk of infection. When bacteria sits in your bladder, it’s more likely to cause a UTI. It’s always important to empty your bladder when you need relief, for both your comfort and your health.
Just like drinking water and clearing out your urinary tract is important in avoiding infection, eating a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables can rid your body of some of the bad bacteria that cause infection.
Fruits and vegetables are also high in water content, and eating more hydrating fruits and vegetables can introduce more water into your body.
Artificially scented and perfumery products can irritate your urethra and raise your risk of infection. Those chemicals and smells are unfamiliar and unnatural to the urinary environment. Be wary of scented soaps, perfumey body washes and scented menstrual products, as they can pose an easily avoidable risk.
If UTIs started becoming an issue for you when you began using a new form of birth control, it might be a change worth considering. Specifically, diaphragms, cervical caps and spermicide can increase your risk of getting a UTI, as they can irritate the urinary tract.
If you think this might be the issue, you can talk with your doctor and your partner(s) about exploring other birth control options.
Wiping from front to back is a simple change, but it can help to avoid introducing new bacteria into the urinary tract. Especially if you’ve made a bowel movement, wiping from front to back can keep any excess bacteria away from your urinary area so that you can remain clean and avoid infection.
UTIs are inconvenient, uncomfortable and can often affect your health in a few different ways. While it’s always important to consult your doctor about medical or health concerns — especially if you have an infection that won’t go away — your doctor may even recommend some of these solutions in conjunction with their own intervention.
If you notice that any of these risk factors coincide with new lifestyle changes for you, or would simply be an easy fix, there’s no harm in trying out a few of them. You might find that they lead to a lower number of infections and a much more comfortable life.