What You Can Do To Decrease Your Risk Of UTIs

If you've ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI), you know how annoying and painful it can be. The infection can be in your urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys — but it is most commonly the bladder and urethra. Your ureters are the tubes that your urine passes through, traveling from your kidneys to your bladder. If a UTI goes untreated, the infection can travel to the kidneys, where it can become serious (via the Mayo Clinic).  

Symptoms of a UTI include a burning sensation when urinating, feeling like you have to pee (even if you just went), and pelvic pain. Men might feel rectal pain. If your UTI is in your kidneys or blood, you may also have pain in your back and sides, fever, chills, and nausea. You should see your doctor at the first sign of a UTI. Your doctor will ask for a urine sample and treat the UTI with antibiotics to get rid of the infection. If you get recurring UTIs, they might do further testing to see if there is an underlying health condition causing them (via Healthline). Since UTIs can be a literal pain, here are some ways to decrease your UTI risks. 

How to decrease your risk of UTIs

You can reduce your risk of getting urinary tract infections by drinking plenty of water every day. You put yourself at a 50% higher chance of developing a UTI if you drink less than 1.5 liters of water a day, according to GoHealth Urgent Care. The amount of water you need daily depends on your physical activity, environment, whether you're pregnant or breastfeeding, and other health conditions. However, in general, women need about 2.7 liters and men need about 3.7 liters of fluids per day (the Mayo Clinic). 

Women may want to urinate before and after sex. During sex, bacteria are moved around and can cause a UTI. Urinating before and after flushes away the bacteria. Ideally, you should also avoid holding your urine. If you go more than 4 hours without peeing, you have an increased chance of getting a UTI. Bacteria have more opportunity to cause an infection in your bladder when you don't empty it often enough (via GoHealth Urgent Care). 

After urinating, women should wipe from front to back to avoid moving bacteria toward the urethra (via Self). It's also important to avoid scented products — tampons, pads, soaps, or powders. Urogynecologist Dr. Tanaka Dune told Shape that scented products can cause irritation, which increases the risk of developing a UTI. Finally, consider checking your birth control. Diaphragms and spermicides can increase your risk of infection. If you have recurring UTIs, talk to your doctor about switching methods.