Dos and don’ts for UTI prevention
Health expert suggests guidelines for individuals to reduce their risk of developing UTIs and promote better urinary tract health.
Urinary Tract Infection or UTI is a common health condition that affects millions of people around the world and it occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract, leading to uncomfortable symptoms and potential complications. While UTIs are treatable, prevention is key.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Ritu Sethi, Gynaecologist and Obstetrician - Director at The Aura Speciality Clinic in Gurgaon, shared, “Urinary Tract Infections can be uncomfortable and disruptive to daily life. However, by adopting simple yet effective do's and don'ts, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of developing UTIs. Maintaining good hygiene practices, staying adequately hydrated, and urinating regularly are essential for preventing bacterial growth in the urinary tract. Additionally, taking precautions before and after sexual intercourse, wearing breathable undergarments and avoiding harsh hygiene products are crucial steps towards UTI prevention.”
She suggested the following guidelines so that individuals can reduce their risk of developing UTIs and promote better urinary tract health.
I. Do's for UTI Prevention -
- Stay Hydrated: One of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent UTIs is by staying adequately hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps flush out bacteria from the urinary tract and dilutes urine, reducing the risk of infection. Always try to consume at least eight glasses of water daily, or more if you engage in physical activities or live in a hot climate.
- Maintain Good Hygiene: Practicing good personal hygiene is crucial in preventing UTIs. When using the toilet, always wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from the anal area reaching the urethra. Additionally, ensure regular bathing or showering to keep the genital area clean and free from bacteria.
- Empty the Bladder Regularly: Emptying the bladder regularly is essential to prevent bacteria from accumulating. Avoid holding urine for extended periods, as this allows bacteria to multiply. Urinate when you feel the urge and ensure complete emptying of the bladder each time.
- Urinate Before and After Sexual Intercourse: Urinating before and after sexual intercourse helps flush out bacteria that may have entered the urethra during sexual activity. This practice is particularly important for women, as their urethra is shorter and more prone to bacterial entry. Additionally, practicing safe sex methods can further reduce the risk of UTIs.
- Wear Breathable Undergarments: Choose underwear made of breathable fabrics, such as cotton, which allows air circulation and helps keep the genital area dry. Avoid tight-fitting clothing and synthetic materials that trap moisture, as it creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
II. Don'ts for UTI Prevention -
- Don't Hold Urine for Too Long: Holding urine for prolonged periods can lead to urinary stasis, where urine remains stagnant in the bladder, allowing bacteria to multiply. Make it a habit to empty your bladder when you feel the urge to urinate and avoid delaying restroom visits.
- Don't Use Harsh Personal Hygiene Products: Avoid using harsh soaps, douches, or scented products in the genital area. These products can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and irritate the urethra, increasing the risk of UTIs. Instead, opt for mild, fragrance-free cleansers and avoid excessive washing or scrubbing.
- Don't Use Irritating Contraceptive Methods: Certain contraceptive methods, such as spermicides or diaphragms, can increase the risk of UTIs by irritating the urinary tract. If you are prone to UTIs, consider alternative contraceptive options or consult your healthcare provider for guidance on the best choice for you.
- Don't Hold Back from Urinating After Sexual Intercourse: Refrain from delaying urination after sexual intercourse. It is essential to promptly flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urinary tract during sexual activity. Urinating within 30 minutes of intercourse can significantly reduce the risk of UTIs.
- Don't Overdo Antibiotic Use: While antibiotics are essential for treating UTIs, their excessive and unnecessary use can contribute to antibiotic resistance. Avoid self-medication and always consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. They will prescribe the most appropriate antibiotic based on the specific bacteria causing the infection.
Dr Ritu Sethi concluded, “Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By following these guidelines, you can minimise the chances of developing UTIs and promote better urinary tract health. If you do experience symptoms such as pain, frequent urination, or cloudy urine, it is important to seek medical advice promptly for proper diagnosis and treatment. With proper care and attention, you can safeguard your urinary tract and maintain overall well-being.”