Three practical things you can do to prevent a UTI, according to a doctor.

how to prevent uti

 

There are three letters in the English language that when paired together result in a communal sigh.

No, it’s not men. It’s UTI.

A UTI is an infection that is anywhere in the urinary tract system, from the two kidneys to the uretha. The most common bacterium that causes a UTI is E. Coli, and moves to the Urethra when you wipe from the back forward.

The symptoms of a UTI vary but according to South Australia Health there are a few common ones. These include a burning sensation when going to the toilet, passing urine more frequently than usual, cloudy urine, and if the infection has spread to the kidney you might experience chills, fever, and back pain.

There’s a reason it’s women who are most commonly affected by the impairment too, because our urethra (the tube where urine exits the bladder) is significantly shorter than men’s. Unfortunately we can’t blame the patriarchy for this one, but we can avoid it.

We spoke to qualified GP Preeya Alexander about the best ways to prevent a UTI, so that you’ll (hopefully) never have to treat one again.

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Dr Alexander says there are three main ways to prevent getting a UTI.

“There are lots of myths out there! The things that actually work are keeping well hydrated to ensure you keep flushing the tract and any bacteria out. For women, wiping front to back post toileting is crucial – it prevents bacteria from being introduced into the bladder. It’s crucial to teach little girls this when they are toilet training,” Dr Alexander began.

While most women are aware of the golden rule, it’s always worth repeating.

“You need to empty the bladder after intercourse – it’s called post coital urination. This ensures that any bacteria that have been pushed into the bladder or urinary tract during intercourse are flushed away so they can’t hang around and cause an infection,” says Dr Alexander.

As for commonly shared myths, there is one in particular method which does not work.

“There has also been a lot of talk around cranberry preventing UTIs however, recent research suggests that it does not significantly prevent them,” Dr Alexander shared.

If you find yourself at the point where you have, in fact, got a UTI, it’s crucial to seek medical attention.

“Increasing fluid intake to flush the bacteria out is key, but if you think you have a UTI it is worth seeing your GP to ensure it is treated to prevent further spread to the kidneys (an infection called pyelonephritis which can be serious),” says Dr Alexander.

She added that a GP can test urine on site to check for infection, and that antibiotics are effective to treat symptoms. However, there is another important reason to get that UTI checked out.

“Sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia can also cause UTI symptoms – so it’s worth also doing a sexual health check. The Australian guidelines recommend that every person under 30 years old have a yearly chlamydia test,” says Dr Alexander.

Here are the main points to take away:
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Wipe front to back.
3. Urinate after sex.
4. If you get a UTI, see a GP to be safe.

Happy wiping, people.

Dr. Preeya Alexander is a qualified GP from Melbourne, Australia who is passionate about preventative health. She runs the blog The Wholesome Doctor. Follow her on Instagram here

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