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4 Habits That Cause UTIs

Jan 22, 2015
By Honore Lansen
bubble bath

Urinary frequency and urgency, pelvic pain, a burning sensation when urinating, blood in your urine—these are some of the bothersome hallmarks of a urinary tract infection (UTI), also known as a bladder infection. UTIs are very common, especially among women, accounting for over 8 million doctor’s visits per year.

The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. An infection can develop when bacteria enters the body through the urethra (the entrance to the urinary tract), and travels up to the bladder. Fever, nausea, vomiting, and back pain are symptoms that suggest that the infection has moved from the bladder into the kidneys. If you experience any of these symptoms — from mild to severe — you should discuss them with your health care provider.

There isn’t a great amount of research to support specific methods for preventing a UTI, but here are a few habits that put you at higher risk (and some that can lower your risk).

Habits That Could Cause UTIs

1. Using Barrier Contraception

If you find that you’re getting recurrent UTIs, you may want to consider switching your birth control method. Barrier methods, especially when used with spermicide, have been linked to a higher risk of developing UTIs. Diaphragm use with spermicide, in particular, seems to impart a higher risk.

2.  Holding It

Try to avoid holding your urine. Stay well-hydrated and urinate as frequently as you need to.

3. Taking Bubble Baths

You don’t need to banish sudsy relaxation from your routine altogether, but if you’re frequently experiencing urinary discomfort, your soap may be the culprit. Use a mild, pH balanced soap, and avoid soaking for long periods in a bubbly tub to prevent urethral irritation.

4. Wiping in the Wrong Direction

Always wipe from front to back to avoid contaminating your urethra with any bacteria from your stool.

Habits that Could Prevent UTIs

1. Peeing After Sex

Use the bathroom soon after intercourse — it helps to wash away bacteria that could potentially enter the urinary tract.

2. Drinking Cranberry Juice

Some studies suggest that a 10-ounce glass of cranberry juice per day may help prevent urinary tract infections, although compelling evidence is limited. However, there’s little harm in trying. If you don’t want to add the sugar to your diet, cranberry extract supplements may also be beneficial. Take 500 mg daily.

3. Staying Hydrated

Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. It will keep help your bladder flushed and will prevent constipation which is something that can further increase your risk of developing a UTI.

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Honore Lansen

As a family practitioner, Nora focuses largely on preventive care and seeks to treat the root cause of physical and emotional health issues, including anxiety, depression and a full range of women's health needs - from routine gynecologic care to contraceptive management. She aims to help the patient navigate through and distill information into a personalized treatment and/or prevention plan. With a bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master's from New York University, Nora earned her MD from New York Medical College. She completed her residency in urban family practice at Beth Israel Medical Center and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She is certified through the American Board of Family Medicine. Nora is a One Medical Group provider and sees patients in our New York offices.

The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, a national, modern primary care practice pairing 24/7 virtual care services with inviting and convenient in-person care at over 100 locations across the U.S. One Medical is on a mission to transform health care for all through a human-centered, technology-powered approach to caring for people at every stage of life.

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