You wake up one morning and you feel like your bladder is about to explode. You think you’re about to get relief, but when you relax enough to see the stream start, you see blood drops in the urine, your urethra feels like a papercut, and your bladder is squeezing hard enough to cause a cramp. If you’re familiar with these symptoms, then you’ve probably had a urinary tract infection. One of the most common problems that I see in my office are urinary tract infections. At least 50 to 60% of all women will have had at least one urinary tract infection in their lifetime. While antibiotics are really the only treatment once you have a urinary tract infection, it’s best to stop infections before they start. Here are my top natural urinary tract infection prevention tips that I share with my patients:
Drink plenty of water. Water not only keeps our organs functioning properly, but it helps to flush out bacteria that might have built up in our bladder and urethra. The old adage that you should drink enough water to keep your urine clear holds true here as well. Start with one and 1/2 L of water a day and increase that amount according to the weather and your activities.
Don’t hold your urine. If you’re drinking enough water, then you should be going to the bathroom every 3 to 4 hours. If you hold your urine too often, then you allow the number of bacteria to increase in your bladder or urethra.
Cranberry and D-mannose: these natural substances coat the bacteria so that they can’t stick onto the bladder wall. The key to using these substances is to take them daily and to double the dose that you take when you start feeling symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
Constipation is bad. Most urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria that inhabit the rectum. Constipation increases the amount of bacteria in this region that might travel to the urethra. My recommendation is to take over-the-counter MiraLAX if you have constipation.
Probiotics can help you maintain a healthy gut. Probiotics help balance the types of bacteria that are in the intestine. Most probiotics contain lactobacillus which is a good type of bacteria. These good types of bacteria help crowd out the bad bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. Any probiotic should help, but I prefer natural yogurts. Yogurts such as Activia, Yakult drink, or Lifeway drinks are delicious and can bring back balance in your intestines.
Urinary tract infections and sex. If you seem to be only having urinary tract infections when you have sex, then a vaginal personal lubricant with cranberry extracts can help decrease the risk of urinary tract bacteria.
You may still get urinary tract infections despite following these tips. But hopefully, the infections won’t be as frequent or as severe. If you are still getting urinary tract infections, then you will definitely need an evaluation by your local urologist.
Medina, Martha, and Edgardo Castillo-Pino. “An introduction to the epidemiology and burden of urinary tract infections.” Therapeutic advances in urology vol. 11 1756287219832172. 2 May. 2019, doi:10.1177/1756287219832172