Fact Or Fiction: Cranberry Juice Helps UTIs

Those who have ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI) will know that they're anything but comfortable. Not only does a UTI come with a burning sensation whenever you need to urinate, but it also often comes with a constant urge to urinate — and they can cause serious harm to your kidneys if left untreated.

"A UTI (urinary tract infection) is caused by bacteria (usually E. coli, sometimes other strains) that infects the urinary tract-urethra, bladder, even the kidneys," Dr. Alyssa Dweck, M.D., an ob-gyn in New York, explained to Shape. "Many UTIs are caused by sexual activity because, for women, the urethra (where urine exits the bladder) is in close physical proximity to the anus/rectum (where you have a bowel movement), and this area is heavily colonized with bacteria." Other causes can include pregnancy or having a weakened immune system.

So how do you treat UTIs, no matter their cause? According to many experts, antibiotics are the answer (via NHS). There's also a lot of talk about cranberry juice. But is this fact or is this fiction?

There's currently no concrete evidence that suggests that cranberry juice treats UTIs

As Dr. Lakeisha Richardson told Bustle, cranberry juice does not treat UTIs. And her reasoning is simple. "Cranberry juice doesn't treat UTIs, because UTIs are caused by bacteria, and all bacterial infections require an antibiotic for treatment," she explained. Nicole Telfer, a science content producer at the period tracker app Clue, agreed, adding, "Research so far does not support the use of cranberry juice (and other products like cranberry capsules and tablets) to significantly treat or reduce the frequency of recurrent UTIs." In other words, cranberry juice won't prevent UTIs.

Instead, you should be staying hydrated in addition to seeing a doctor about your UTI. "Don't worry about trying to drink eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day," Dr. Michael O'Leary, a urologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, advised Harvard Health Publishing. "But do drink plenty of fluids, since urinating helps to flush out bacteria."