Many women want to know what they can do to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections. Unfortunately, anatomical variation, genetics and/or lifestyle can make some women more prone to these painful, uncomfortable infections. There are some simple additions to your daily routine you can use to prevent UTIs.
Treat constipation aggressively- Most people are constipated and don’t realize it. Try a daily or 2 time daily capful of miralax. The mechanism here is to reduce the number of threatening bacteria in your bowel that can lead to UTIs. Find an amount that works for you that does not cause diarrhea and then use it on a schedule, not as needed. Other options are metamucil, doculax, senna or citrucel.
Take a probiotic- This replenishes the good bacteria in the gut that helps boost your immune system and prevent harmful bacteria from taking over. Examples include Kefir, Kimchi, homemade souerkraut, kombucha or over the counter products.
Take a cranberry tablet- Take one twice a day. This helps prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of your bladder and urethra.
Take a D-mannose 500mg table- Take every 2-3 hours for 5 days. This sticks to the bacteria, E. Coil and makes the bacteria clump together and prevents them from sticking to the lining of your bladder and urethra.
Estrogen Cream- You can place a nickel sized amount in your vagina daily for 2 weeks and then just 2 times per week after. It prevents thinning of the tissue of your urethra and surrounding tissues. It is the only treatment proven to help prevent recurrent UTIs in women. However, it should not be used if you have a history of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer. Your primary care doctor may have another reason for you not to use it as well.
Avoid antibiotics unless symptomatic- This is simple. Taking unnecessary antibiotics will destroy the good bacteria in your gut and make you susceptible to infections with bacteria that then have resistance to commonly used antibiotics. There are a lot of conditions that can mimic UTIs so you should talk to your doctor about whether an antibiotic is truly indicated.
Time voiding (maybe)- This used to be a commonly preached method to help prevent UTIs. The truth is this has never been a proven method. Theoretically it can help reduce infection by flushing bacteria out of your urethra and bladder so they can’t stick around to cause infection.
Maintain good personal hygiene- You can use a shower wand to gently clean the peri urethral area (the opening of your urethra within your vagina) to help reduce colonization of bacteria. Wipe forward to backwards. Use flushable wet wipes as an alternative to toilet paper if you will not be showering daily.
And that’s it! Try to incorporate one or all of the changes and see if this helps. If you have questions about any of the above recommendations or are concerned you have a UTI and need treatment, you can always request a consult with a telemedicine doctor.