Because no one wants to run to the restroom every five minutes.
Ever had a bad UTI? They’re the worst, especially if you’re me and you pee twice every half hour… ouch.
“Cranberry pills!” – your friends will yell at you as you sit, trying to hold in the three gallons of water you just couldn’t stop drinking, thinking to yourself ‘If only it was that easy’.
Unfortunately, roughly half of all women will have at least one urinary tract infection – more commonly referred to as a UTI; characterized by frequent, painful urination – in their lifetime, and statistics show about one in four of us are more prone to them, averaging up to two UTIs every six months.
And, well, that’s just not going to work.
So if you’re one of the unlucky percentage of women plagued by reoccurring UTIs, read on. Here are six hacks to dramatically lessen your chances of ever suffering through those ultra-uncomfortable bathroom visits again…
1. Make fluids your friend
Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria making its way into your bladder and urethra, which causes an intense need to urinate – often with increased frequency – and is typically accompanied by a burning sensation while peeing, and cloudy urine.
The good news is, the constant toilet trips are your body’s way of getting rid of the bacteria; so the more fluids you drink, the faster you can flush it all out and get back to your normal routine (though you should definitely still see your doc if you have any of the above symptoms, and not attempt to self-treat through increased water intake alone).
Regularly drinking plenty of H20 and not holding onto your pee when you feel the urge to urinate will also help keep UTIs from developing in the first place – as the more often you evacuate your bladder, the less likely it is to be able to harbor and grow bacteria to begin with.
And what about the old wives tale that drinking cranberry juice keeps UTIs away, too?
While there currently aren’t any conclusive studies to prove this, cranberries do contain a natural antiseptic called hippuronic acid, which can prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of your bladder, so it certainly can’t hurt to add a glass a day (preferably the low-sugar variety) to your fluid intake if you tend to get regular UTIs.
2. Pee after sex
Just met a guy and feel weird about excusing yourself to the bathroom? Well, would you rather lay in his arms wondering if a UTI is coming for you? Or would you rather just get up to pee post-coitus?
Because the latter is the surest bet for reducing your chances of developing an infection, according to most physicians. Friction during intercourse can increase your chances of pushing microscopic bacteria up into your urethra, but a quick pee sesh after sex will flush that right out, provided you do it within the first five minutes. It’s also best to avoid urinating directly before sex, as a fuller bladder means more force when you pee, upping your chances of pushing any unwanted nasties out.
3. Shower, don’t bathe
When you next have the urge to hop in a soothing bubble bath, just think… ‘Am I bathing in my own bacteria?’ It’s not a very nice thought, but unfortunately, relaxing and calorie burning as a hot bath may be, it’s best avoided if you’re someone who tends to suffer from UTIs.
Because the water isn’t constantly moving as in the case of showering, bathing makes it easier for bacteria to get inside of your urethra, and additionally, bubble baths can expose your delicate genital area to a host of harsh chemicals that can further irritate your urethra. So as much as you may love reclining back in the tub with a glass of wine and Netflix playing on your phone on a Friday night after an exhausting week at work, it’s safer to skip the soak sesh and hop in the shower. Crisis averted.
4. Pop probiotics
Probiotic supplements contain Lactobacillus, a bacterium that produces a lactic acid, which has been shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk of developing UTIs.
According to a 2013 study published in PubMed, people who took Lactobacillus supplements regularly experienced a significant decrease in UTIs.
Taking probiotics also helps keep the vagina healthy, promoting good vaginal flora levels, which are critical for avoiding yeast infections; and new research has found regular probiotic supplementation can even boost your mental health, aid weight loss and strengthen your immunity, so it’s really a win-win.
5. Use tampons
Surfing the crimson wave? If you’re prone to UTIs and it’s that time of the month, opt for tampons. They’re actually a savior when it comes to avoiding UTIs, as they keep the urethra opening drier than a sanitary pad might, and thus limit bacterial growth in that area, according to the paper, Prevention of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Women, published in MedScape.
And while tampons are considered safe to use if you’re vulnerable to UTIs, there are a number of other things you definitely shouldn’t put in or near your vagina if you want to reduce your risk of developing the bacterial infection, including a partner’s fingers or mouth after they’ve been exposed to your anus, Vaseline, and douches – to name a few.
6. Wipe it away
Thought air-drying after running out of toilet paper was the worst thing to happen to you in the bathroom? Try again. Wiping the wrong way can transfer bacteria from the rectum to the bladder opening, which can cause UTIs and the spread of infection.
As a general rule, you should always wipe from front to back when you use toilet paper, and never, ever wipe from back to front, which is the most common way nasty bacteria like E. Coli, which lives around the anus, makes its way into your urethra and starts causing havoc inside your bladder.
Images via shutterstock.com and giphy.com.
Comment: Have a UTI tip that works for you that we didn’t cover? Fill us in.