If you've never had a UTI, count yourself lucky. But for the many women (and some men) who have endured it, a urinary tract infection can be a painful and debilitating experience.
A UTI, according to the Mayo Clinic, is an infection in any part of your urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. However, most UTIs affect the lower urinary tract, which is your bladder and urethra. And common symptoms include an urge to urinate frequently, a burning sensation with urinating, blood in urine, and pelvic pain.
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According to WebMD, some experts say that in their lifetime, women have a 1 in 2 risk of getting a UTI — and those who get one infection generally have repeat infections that can go on for years. This thought alone can be a depressing one, which is why prevention is key.
A new study reports that drinking lots of water every day can help prevent you from getting an infection, according to HealthDay.
The research found that young women who got UTIs but drank an additional six cups of water each day were nearly half as likely as a control group to have another infection. The group of women who drank more water also reduced their use of antibiotics by 47 per cent.
Researchers also found that the amount of time that passed before a woman's next UTI and between recurrent infections was longer in the group who drank water as opposed to the control group.
While it's known that drinking more water makes you pee more, which flushes out bacteria, study author Dr. Thomas Hooten said increasing water intake also prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder and reduces the overall concentration of bacteria that could cause an infection.
Increasing water intake also prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder and reduces the overall concentration of bacteria that could cause an infection.
"Flushing bacteria out of the bladder, it's been known, at least it's been thought, that it is protective. This study suggests that it is," said Hooton.
"It is the urine output which is of course the key factor leading to the effect seen in the study," said Dr. Hunter Wessells, chair of the department of urology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, who wasn't involved in the study.
The study, which was conducted in Bulgaria, looked at 140 health pre-menopausal women who had at least three UTIs in the past year and drank about four cups of fluid a day, including two cups of water.
Half of the participants were asked to drink about six cups of water each day in addition to their usual daily fluid intake, while the other half served as a control group and drank their usual daily fluid intake.
At the end of a year, the total daily fluid intake of the water group — including water and other fluids — averages nearly 12 cups, while the control group's daily fluid intake was less than half that.
However, Hooton notes that it's not clear exactly how much more water you should drink to get that benefit. "There's no magic in a liter-and-a-half," he said.
He also notes that an increase in fluid, not just water, may be beneficial as fluids are mostly water.
But Women's Health notes that doctors warn against consuming certain drinks that are known to irritate the bladder, including coffee, alcohol and caffeinated sodas — although it's OK if you do accidentally drink that morning latte.
Doctors warn against consuming certain drinks that are known to irritate the bladder including coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated sodas.
"Exposing yourself to these irritants in the midst of a UTI isn't particularly harmful or dangerous," David Kaufman, M.D., told Women's Health. "It just makes you feel worse, like putting salt in a wound."
Aside from drinking tons of water and going pee right after sex, Essence notes that in order to prevent an infection, including a yeast infection, you should towel yourself off and wipe away excess moisture down there after you've had sex.
"Moisture is something we want to avoid, especially to women who are prone to yeast infections," Dr. Twogood told the mag.
Towel yourself off and wipe away excess moisture down there after you've had sex.
She also suggests going commando at night, or, if you must wear underwear, opt for a nightgown or loose, breathable bottoms.
"Don't slip on underwear," Dr. Twogood said. Foregoing tight panties helps let your vagina breathe, which decreases the risk of getting a UTI.
But if you do get a UTI (we're so sorry; we know it's awful), see your doctor as quickly as possible so you can prevent further complications, such as a kidney infection. Your physician will most likely give you antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
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