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UTI Prevention: 7 Ways to Prevent Vaginal Infections
Up to 60% of women will experience a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in their lifetime 1. Postmenopausal women are more prone to contracting a UTI by 50%! While recurrent urinary tract infections are common, you can decrease incidences of these infections. Prevention is key! Here are some ways to lessen UTI symptoms and reduce episodes of this common condition.
What Is A UTI?
Urinary tract infections impact millions of people worldwide. They are far more common in women than men. On average, 3 in 25 men will experience a UTI in their lifetimes to 10 in 25 women 2.
A UTI can transpire anywhere involved in the processing and elimination of urine, including:
- Kidneys (Pyelonephritis)
- Bladder (Cystitis)
- Urethra (Urethritis)
Typically, UTIs are diagnosed in the lower half of the urinary tract, usually when there is a urethra or bladder infection.
What Are UTI Symptoms?Knowing symptoms of UTIs is essential for preventing them. If you show any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor for an exam. You might be at risk of UTI.
- Pyelonephritis: Lower Back Pain, Fever, Chills, Nausea, Vomiting
- Cystitis: Pelvic Pressure, Bloody Urine, Abdomen Pain, Increase in Bathroom Frequency
- Urethritis: Burning While Urinating, Vaginal Discharge
If you are experiencing these symptoms frequently, you may be prone to recurring UTIs. Please contact a physician to get a thorough exam and try some of these tips to help ease UTI symptoms.
How to Prevent UTIs
UTI prevention can improve your daily comfort, decrease the risk of developing other infections, and support your overall health. Here are some tips for UTI prevention to help you find relief!
Wipe Front to Back
As we know from our Gut Health Test, there are millions of microbes that live in our stool. These bacteria are handy for testing your microbiome. They are not conducive to a healthy vagina.
One of the most common pathogens responsible for recurrent UTIs is Escherichia coli (E.coli) 3. E.coli is also commonly present in samples procured after bowel movements. These findings indicate a significant connection between E. coli and recurring UTIs.
Eliminate these bacteria and other toxins as your body intended. Wipe from front to back to prevent any cross-contamination.
Switch Up Your Birth Control
There is no scientific proof that any type of birth control causes a UTI.
However, some forms might increase the risk, including 4:
- Spermicide-Lubricated Condom
Switch to a water-based lubricant and sheep-skin condoms to help prevent UTIs during sexual intercourse.
There is also some evidence that oral contraceptives can disrupt the bacteria within the vaginal microbiome.
Birth control changes hormones, which can alter the pH of the vagina. Hormones, such as estrogen, produce energy sources like glycogen. These carbohydrates serve as food for vaginal bacteria, namely protective Lactobacilli species.
Unlike the gut microbiome, the vaginal microbiome is an exclusive crowd when in a healthy state. When specific Lactobacillus species dominate, they tend to avoid cohabitating with a diverse population of other bacteria. They create an overly acidic environment by naturally regulating vaginal pH. These bacteria make it so that pathogens that promote UTIs don’t want to stick around.
If you are experiencing frequent UTIs on birth control, talk to your OBGYN about switching prescriptions. You might need to alter your medicines regularly to deal with dynamic changes in your body.
Keep your vagina clear of douches. These cleaning mechanisms do more harm than good. They actually destroy healthy bacteria in your vaginal microbiome that protect you from UTIs.
Plus, some douches are scented with artificial ingredients. These unknown additives can have a variety of reactions to your vaginal flora.
Also, steer clear of vaginal wipes with scents. Some of these can contain alcohol, which can cause vaginal dryness and harm probiotic vaginal bacteria.
The vagina is self-cleaning. If you’re noticing malodors, it might be an underlying condition or vaginal infection, like bacterial vaginosis.
For those who wish to wash their vagina, you still can. Lightly rinse the vulva with warm water. Some people might benefit from using unscented soap. Use a very small amount to see how your body reacts first.
Power Up On Cranberries
Cranberries are the most widely studied fruits for UTI treatment and prevention. These tart fruits are rich in molecules known as A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs). PACs prevent bacteria from clinging onto the bladder wall.
One study followed 160 patients who developed a UTI after removing a urinary catheter 5. Six weeks after surgery, half of the group took cranberries supplements that were equal to two cups of cranberry juice daily. The others took a placebo.
Results found that those who consumed the cranberry supplements were 50% less likely to develop a UTI. ‘
Before you go celebrating cranberry juices at every meal, not all cranberry products are made equally. Stay away from mass-manufactured juices that add extra sugars. These can cause more problems, including diabetes, weight gain, and Candida overgrowth.
You don’t need to get hydrated if you stay hydrated! The key to stopping UTIs is to flush the bacteria out. So, drink plenty of water!
You can also increase your water intake by eating water-rich foods, like:
Consider using some of these juices with cranberries to create the ultimate UTI juice!
Change Your Sex Habits
A common cause of UTIs is not clearing out the urethra after sex. Urinating helps flush out any bacteria you may have contracted from your partner. It also helps clear out any personal lubricants that may cause build-ups within the vagina.
New sexual partners might also increase risk factors associated with a UTI 6. Knowing a partner’s sexual history might make UTI prevention easier. However, you can still express yourself as needed without making it awkward. Just be sure to try some of these other suggestions to prevent any UTI issues.
Get A Vaginal Health Test
If you get recurrent UTIs, you might have insufficient levels of Lactobacilli. This imbalance is especially common for those who have recently endured antibiotic therapy due to an illness or C-section.
Vaginal health is determined by community state types (CSTs). CSTs categorize bacterial species by prevalence. Your placement in specific categories can help determine how prone your vaginal microbiome is to developing a UTI.
The most efficient way to learn your vaginal CST is with an at-home vaginal microbiome test.
This discreet vaginal wellness test provides you with the tools necessary to comfortably procure a vaginal sample and mail it to our lab for analysis.
Our team of experts can determine your levels of Lactobacilli so that you can make the lifestyle changes necessary to improve your quality of life. We also provide you with actionable suggestions so that you boost your health and immunity. Plus, we can recommend a strain-specific probiotic blend that can help with any deficiencies.
UTI Prevention Made Easy
Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin when you’re trying to make healthy changes to your life. That’s why we’re here to help!
It is our passion for your to live happy, healthy, and comfortable lives. There are many natural things you can do to prevent UTIs. They all center around backing up your protective vaginal bacteria.
The first step in supporting your Lactobacilli friends is to see how many you have to work. Try a Vaginal Health Test and try these suggestions to help stop recurrent UTIs.
- 1 Medina, M., & Castill-Pino, E. (2019). An introduction to the epidemiology and burden of urinary tract infections. Therapeutic advances in urology, 11, 1756287219832172. https;//doi.org/10.1177/1756287219832172.
- 2 “Understanding UTIs Across the Lifespan.” Understanding UTIs Across the Lifespan – Urology Care Foundation, Urology Care Foundation, 12 July 2021, www.urologyhealth.org/healthy-living/urologyhealth-extra/magazine-archives/summer-2016/understanding-utis-across-the-lifespan.
- 3 Alanazi, M. Q., Alqahtani, F.Y.,& Aleanizy, F.S. (2018). An evaluation of E.Coli in urinary tract infection in emergency department at KAMC in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia: retrospective study. Annals of clinical microbiology and antimicrobials, 17(1),3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12941-018-0255-z.
- 4 Stephan D, Fihn, MD. “Use of Spermicide-Coated Condoms and Other Risk Factors for Urinary Tract Infection Caused by Staphylococcus Saprophyticus.” Archives of Internal Medicine, JAMA Network, 9 Feb. 1998, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/191301.
- 5 Foxman, B., Cronenwett, A.E., Spino, C., Berger, M.B., & Morgan, D. M. (2015). Cranberry juice capsules and urinary tract infection after surgery: results of a randomized trial. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 213(2), 194.e1-194.e1948. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2015.04.003.
- 6 Landau, Meryl Davids, et al. “The Link Between UTIs and Sex: Causes and How To Prevent Them: Everyday Health.” EverydayHealth.com, 19 Feb. 2020, www.everydayhealth.com/urinary-tract-infections/the-link-between-utis-and-sex.aspx.