Most women are familiar with the horror that is a urinary tract infection. For several days, or until your antibiotics kick in, you’re usually stuck with a burning bladder, urethral pain, and an annoyingly persistent need to use the bathroom with very little actually coming out.
Fortunately, while you may not be able to completely prevent the situation, there are steps you can take to make it less likely to occur. Here are five easy ways to keep UTIs at bay.
Pee before and after sex
“Flushing urine through the urethra and the normal lingering bacteria before the friction of intercourse is a simple preventive measure anyone can take,” says Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, an obstetrician and gynecologist. Afterward, you’ll want to make sure to go again to get rid of any bacteria that may have been pushed into your urethra during sex.
“The more you drink, the more fluid will flow through the bladder and urethra, thereby pushing bacteria out,” says Eyvazzadeh. The conventional wisdom is to drink cranberry juice, but there’s mixed evidence on how much that helps. Dr. Payal Bhandari, the scientific advisor for Uqora, recommends water with a pinch of salt and lemon because the electrolytes help you hydrate.
Use a peri bottle
If you’re prone to UTIs, Eyvazzadeh recommends cleaning the area around your urethra with a peri bottle after sex and peeing. This will get rid of any bacteria lingering on the outside to keep it from spreading.
Don’t hold in your pee
The more you use the bathroom, the more you’re flushing bacteria out of your urinary tract,” says Bhandari. “Make sure you completely emptied your bladder and clean from front to back.”
“The vagina is the guardian of the bladder, and the health of the vagina depends on a robust and happy vaginal microbiome,” explains Dr. Felice Gersh, obstetrician and gynecologist. So it’s not surprising that some research shows probiotics can help prevent UTIs. Gersh recommends a probiotic with Lactobacillus to maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome.
If you do end up with a UTI, see a doctor ASAP. If it lingers too long, it can turn into a more serious kidney infection, according to Eyvazzadeh. But as long as you catch it, it’s likely to be treated within just a few days.
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xx, The FabFitFun Team