UTI Prevention

By Melissa Kramer

7 mins

For anyone who has suffered from recurrent UTIs, many of these UTI prevention tips may be a bit pedestrian. But don’t stop reading – there could be a few you’ve never heard.

The scientific evidence linking recurrent UTIs to urination patterns, wiping patterns, douching, or wearing of tight undergarments is varied and in some cases the evidence is weak, so we share these tips with that in mind.

We also know, after interviewing many females, that regardless of scientific evidence, a combination of health, diet and lifestyle changes meant the end of recurrent UTIs for some. We listened to their stories, collated their suggestions, looked for supporting evidence, and present what we found out here.

It never hurts to have a quick run through the list to see how your own habits measure up.

If your recurrent UTIs are caused by an embedded infection in your bladder, it’s unlikely changing one of these habits alone will result in a cure. However, the right changes could support your treatment and help your body recover faster.


Article Quick Links

  • Preventing UTIs after sex. >>>>
  • Why you should reconsider your body products. >>>>
  • UTIs and diet, drinking and smoking. >>>>
  • Habits that may increase your risk of UTI. >>>>
  • Health signals you shouldn’t ignore. >>>>


UTI Prevention: Sex

Risk FactorThe IssueWhat You Can Do

Sex is a risk factor for urinary tract infections

Sex is one of the highest risk factors for UTIs.

Bacteria and other organisms already existing in the vagina and on the surrounding skin can be pushed into the urethra during sex, increasing the chances of a UTI.
1. Urinate after sex, within 15 minutes, to help flush your urinary tract.

2. Using a UTI prevention remedy each time you have sex can help reduce the risk of infection. D-mannose has been shown to be effective against infections caused by E.coli, the most common cause of UTI.

3. Vaginal probiotic suppositories containing Lactobacillus crispatus, and oral probiotics containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus fermentum have shown promise in restoring the balance of vaginal flora. This in turn potentially reduces the risk of yeast infections and UTIs.
Sex with a UTINormal friction during sex can cause irritation to an already sensitive urinary tract.Wait until your symptoms have stopped before having sex. This will give your urinary tract a chance to heal. A healthy urinary tract goes a long way towards UTI prevention.
New sexual partnerAnecdotal evidence suggests some females experience an increase in UTIs with a specific sexual partner. This could be due to increased sexual activity in a new relationship, or to unfamiliar organisms being introduced to the urethra via sex.

There have also been documented cases of a male partner carrying UTI-causing bacteria, meaning a female can continue to be reinfected.
Whether it’s regular sex, once in a blue moon sex, or a new sexual partner, take the same care as outlined above to reduce the risk of a UTI due to sex.

If your recurrent UTIs began as the result of a new relationship and have continued long-term, you may want to consider having both yourself and your partner tested for UTI-causing bacteria. UTI prevention is important for both partners in a relationship.
Diaphragm useThe pressure of the diaphragm may slow urinary flow and allow infection-causing organisms to multiply.Try another form of birth control, or at the very least, ensure the diaphragm is not in place longer than absolutely necessary.
Condom use

Condoms can irritate the urethra in some females

This could be attributed to the friction that occurs in the vagina during sexual activity. Irritated tissue can create an environment that allows infection-causing organisms to thrive.Try latex-free condoms and non-spermicidal lubrication, or if it’s an option, stop using condoms. Obviously UTI prevention is one thing, but STD prevention is also extremely important.
SpermicidesSpermicides lead to loss of Lactobacilli (good bacteria) and an increase in the normal vaginal pH, which can pave the way for the growth of UTI-causing bacteria.Try using another form of contraception, but take a read of the rest of this section before choosing one.
Contraceptive pill

The pill can be linked to UTI in some people

By design, contraceptive pills alter the balance of hormones in your body, especially estrogen and progesterone. It is known that estrogen levels in the vagina are directly linked to the balance of vaginal flora. Any change in estrogen levels can alter your vaginal flora in a way that encourages the growth of infection-causing organisms.1. If stopping the pill is an option, you can try this. If it’s not, you may want to speak with your doctor about finding another pill that is more appropriate for you.

2. Vaginal probiotic pessaries and oral probiotics containing certain good bacteria have shown promise in restoring the balance of vaginal flora, in turn reducing the risk of yeast infections and UTIs. Look for pessaries containing Lactobacillus crispatus, and oral probiotics containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus fermentum.


UTI Prevention: Body Products

Risk FactorThe IssueWhat You Can Do
Soaps, bubble baths, bath oils

Soaps, bubble bath can irritate urethra

Chemicals can cause irritation in the vagina and urethra. They can also alter your vaginal pH, causing an imbalance of vaginal flora, allowing infection-causing organisms to grow, and potentially make their way towards your urethra.Take a shower instead of a bath, and use non-perfumed soaps. Avoid using any soap around your vagina and urethra. And remember, everything is a chemical, even ‘natural’ products are made from chemicals. A natural product could also cause irritation.
TamponsChanging tampons may introduce infection-causing organisms into the urethra. The pressure of the tampon may also slow urinary flow and allow these organisms to multiply rather than being flushed out effectively.If you can avoid using tampons, do. If this isn’t an option, be sure to wash your hands before changing tampons, and try to empty your bladder completely whenever you feel the urge to urinate.
Douches and spraysFeminine products such as douches, deodorant sprays or powders used in the genital area can irritate the urethra. Douching can disrupt the balance of bacteria and alter the normal pH of the vagina, creating a more favorable environment for infection-causing organisms.There is no evidence to support douching and similar practices. In fact, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends avoiding this practice entirely. A healthy vagina is a self-regulating, self-cleaning environment, so leave it to its business.


UTI Prevention: Things You Eat, Drink And Breathe

Risk FactorThe IssueWhat You Can Do

Caffeine can aggravate symptoms of UTI

In food or drink, caffeine is a stimulant that can cause irritation to the urinary tract. As a diuretic, it also promotes urgency to urinate and increases the risk of dehydration. It’s important to maintain good hydration to flush infection-causing organisms from the urinary tract.Try a non-caffeinated herbal tea instead, or switch to water. Avoid all caffeinated food and drinks while you still have symptoms. Next time you reach for a coffee, weigh up that caffeine-y goodness against your UTI prevention goals.
Sweetened drinks and sodaCarbonated drinks are known to increase the occurrence of some lower urinary tract symptoms. Diet sodas alone contain four well-known bladder irritants: acidic carbonation, citric and other acids, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners.If this is your only reason to give up sweetened and carbonated drinks, you’re already doing better than most people. No one needs these drinks. Removing them from your diet will help with more than UTI prevention. Water is the best replacement.
DietHighly acidic or alkaline foods can cause further irritation and inflammation in an already fragile urinary tract. Foods high in histamine are also known to cause bladder discomfort.Because food-related symptoms vary by person, it’s a good idea to monitor your diet and any irritation that follows ingesting certain foods. For some people, it can help to avoid chocolate, citrus fruits, vitamin C and acids like vinegar.
AlcoholAlcohol also acts as a diuretic which can increase the risk of dehydration and in some people can amplify lower urinary tract symptoms.Studies show mixed results, so while reducing alcohol consumption certainly won’t hurt, the results are likely to differ for each person.
SmokingOf the 60 or so different carcinogens found in cigarettes, many are identifiable in urine samples of smokers, meaning these carcinogens pass right through your urinary tract.

Aside from tripling your risk of bladder cancer, smoking has also been associated with an increased risk of interstitial cystitis and other lower urinary tract symptoms.
The only real answer here is quitting.

If you need extra motivation, a research study in 2012 showed that children of smokers are also at higher risk of developing severe urinary disorders including the symptoms of interstitial cystitis.

So this one is about personal UTI prevention AND hereditary UTI prevention.


UTI Prevention: Habits

Risk FactorThe IssueWhat You Can Do
Not urinating when you need toThe longer urine stays in the bladder, the more time infection-causing organisms have to multiply.Drink enough fluid daily so your urine is clear or pale yellow, and urinate when you get the urge. Don’t wait.
Wearing tight jeans or pantyhose

Tight clothing can aggravate UTI symptoms

Tight-fitting and synthetic clothing can trap moisture and encourage infection-causing organisms to multiply.Wear loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres to promote air circulation.
Poor wiping habitsBacteria from the anus and surrounding area can easily get into the urethra.Wipe from front to back - particularly important after a bowel movement.


UTI Prevention: Health

Risk FactorThe IssueWhat You Can Do
Overuse of antibioticsUTIs are one of the most commonly over-prescribed conditions. The percentage of antibiotic resistant infections is steadily rising. If you frequently use antibiotics that do not seem to be effective for your UTI, there is a good chance it is the wrong type of antibiotic, or an insufficient dose.

Continuously taking antibiotics depletes the good bacteria in your body, causing an imbalance that allows infection-causing organisms to thrive.
If you’re self-administering antibiotics, or are repeatedly given the same prescription by your doctor without follow-up testing, we suggest taking a more in-depth look at this issue.

While more research is needed, a number of studies have shown promising results for non-antibiotic treatment of UTIs.
History of UTIs

History of UTI is a risk factor for future UTI

Research has shown that an E.coli infection can change the bladder lining, making it more susceptible to future E.coli infections.

Generally, the more UTIs you’ve had, the more likely you are to experience another. There are a number of reasons this could be the case. We’ve covered a bunch of these in our breakdown of recurrent UTIs.
If it’s your first UTI, seek treatment early. This may prevent or limit any changes to the bladder lining.

For multiple UTIs, educate yourself about the current options for testing and treatment of recurrent UTIs, and arm yourself with the right questions to ask your doctor.
Multiple UTIs within a short timeframeAs with any infection, frequent UTIs can cause prolonged inflammation, specifically in the urinary tract. It is possible any minor ongoing symptoms of a UTI are actually due to this inflammation, rather than a new infection.In the case of lingering symptoms, certain dietary changes can minimize irritation. Herbal teas known to soothe and reduce inflammation may also help. It’s important to give your urinary tract time to heal.
Yeast infections / Bacterial VaginosisStudies have indicated a link between an imbalance in vaginal flora and increased UTIs. Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are signs of such an imbalance and shouldn’t be ignored.Vaginal probiotic pessaries containing good bacteria called Lactobacillus crispatus, and oral probiotics containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus fermentum have shown promise in restoring the balance of vaginal flora, in turn reducing the risk of yeast infections and UTIs.
Candida overgrowth / poor gut healthUp to 80% of the immune system is found in the gut. A weakened immune system due to poor gut health is unable to effectively fight infection. This is no different when it comes to your urinary tract.Digestive issues need to be addressed. Improving your diet and supporting your immune system with the right probiotics might give your body the ammunition it needs to clear recurrent UTIs and assist with UTI prevention.
Chlamydia trachomatisChlamydia trachomatis is a fairly common cause of acute urethral syndrome in females, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Herpes simplex virus can cause dysuria (pain or discomfort when urinating) - all of which can be confused for symptoms of a UTI. Your body can’t clear these infections up on its own; treatment is required.It’s important to rule out STDs in your search for answers about recurrent UTIs. Tests for Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Herpes are available at STD testing clinics, so if you have any concerns, organize a test sooner rather than later.

It’s important to note there are other, more serious risk factors that cannot be corrected by making these UTI prevention changes. These include urinary tract abnormalities, blockages such as kidney stones, and disease.

And as we mentioned in the introduction, better UTI prevention habits may not have an effect on an underlying chronic bladder infection.

For this reason, it’s always important to get advice from a healthcare practitioner if your symptoms are ongoing, or if you’re concerned and would like to investigate further.

Share your questions and comments below, or get in touch with your own UTI prevention tips.


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CD says:

I got my first UTI when I had sex for the first time. I got treated and it went away and I never got another one while I was with that partner. 5 months later, I had sex with a new partner. I got another UTI and it was treated and went away. 2 weeks later with the same partner, I got another UTI and it got treated and went away. Except for some reason, my bladder was never the same after that specific UTI. I was left with the strong urgency to pee as if my bladder was full every time I needed to pee. The feeling is strong after I wake up from sleep/nap. I have gotten many UTI’s after having sex with that same partner even though we are both STD free and I pee afterwards every time. I don’t know why I am getting so many UTI’s from being with my partner. Its very frustrating and painful.

Alice says:

Hi, there is also another thing that I haven’t seen here, but after an UTI, your bladder and urethra can be inflammed even after your infection was cleared. I had that experience. I thought i was having small UTIs constantly but it was only residual inflammation. Until recently, the symptoms had completely disappeared and I was great.
And then, I decided to have sex again… – _-

Hi Alice, you’re right, each experience is unique. It can be very difficult to differentiate inflammation alone from infection, particularly due to the inaccuracies of UTI testing. It’s always best to discuss with a doctor of course. Melissa

Hi CD, we have a couple of articles you may like to read, given what you’ve described. First, how UTIs can become chronic, and second about one practitioner’s treatment approach where sex appears to be a UTI trigger. If you have any other questions, you can always message us. Melissa

Nurul aiman says:

Im 20 right now, i had my first uti when in February 2018, than i was prescribed with antibiotic and gone for a while for about 6 month than when i got back the dr prescribe with another antibiotic then it happen again on october when i am having period and after that it happen again every month every time im period, i try to consult urologist but he seem not much help because he said normal to have uti while period, then i met gynae and she try to prescribe me probiotic and urell,do you have any advice im scared to have it all over again.

Hi Nurul, a UTI every time you get your period shouldn’t be something you have to deal with. Have you read some of the other information on our site about testing and treatment options? You can also get in touch via email so I can share more resources that way. Melissa

Chrstina K says:

At 52 years old, I have struggled with recurrent UTI’s off and on since 30 years old. I also have Hashimotos, SIBO and Dibosis. I know it’s all about Biofilm I’m convinced. I’m trying to self-treat wth Biofilm disruptors, GI support, GI Detox to get rid of the mess and Pre and probiotics…amoung good food choices. Doctors that know this routine are not accessible and very expensive. Some of them get part of the treatment right, but not the whole thing…but it’s lack of knowledge and training. It’s a tough treatment and very tough to stick too. I went into remission once for about a year…but went right back to where I am now. Try try again. Good Luck.

Mary says:

I am in my 50s and have been struggling on and off for 30 years also. Having children helped my symptoms but they always came back sometimes mild sometimes incapacitating. Saw many doctors some even tried to help. At least I started eTing a super healthy diet. Finally found someone who helped. Proper testing, treatment of the specific infections, biofilm busting, treatment of coexisting conditions. I still get e. Colo infections but I’ve cleared all the buried old infections and I’m working on building my immune system enough to not be so susceptible to e. Coli. E. Coli is responsible for the vast majority of Uris. STDs can cause very painful bladder infections also. I’m still angry about that. Good luck

Hi Mary, I saw you also sent a direct message, so I’ll respond via email. Susy

I hope your current approach gets you on track to recovery. If you have any questions, you can alwayssend us a message directly. All the best, Melissa

Judy says:

I am 79 yars old and have been getting 3 to 4 UTIs a year since I have been in my 20s. I have been on so many antiobiotics through the years am resistant to many. I have had many cystoscipies and ultrasounds, etc and everything is negative. The only thing that ever helped was a minor out patient procedure done about 20 years ago where scare tissue from many UTIs was removed from my urethra. That procedure left me free from UTIs for 6 years. Unfortunately, I have been told by many drs. and Urologists that the procedure is no longer done. “ the bad outweighs the good”. It is very depressing to get so many UTIs. I take a strong Cranberry supplement every day and do everything right, but still get the UTIs. Any Suggestions?

Hi Judy, are you able to send me a direct message with more info on where you’re based? I may be able to share helpful resources. Melissa

Paula says:

I have a false bladder internally and I have to catheterize usually 7 times in 24 hours. I have a UTI almost all of the time and my Microbiologist tests it every time and prescribes whatever anti biotic it is sensitive to. It is always a strain of ecoli.It gets better and then about 4 days later it all starts again. I have found your article very interesting and I will try some of the solutions. It has now been suggested that I may have bugs in the biotherms?? Any further ideas please?

Hi Paula, we have more information about chronic infection and biofilms here. From that article you may want to read about the inaccuracies of testing, alternative testing methods, and recurrent UTI treatment. If you have questions in addition to this info, you can get in touch. Melissa

Wild says:

“If your recurrent UTIs began as the result of a new relationship and have continued long-term, you may want to consider having both yourself and your partner tested for UTI-causing bacteria.”

I’m in this exact scenario with my girlfriend. Since we started dating, she has had several UTIs, typically occurring after sex. (D-mannose helps, but I don’t believe it’s treating the underlying problem.)

I’d like to get myself tested for UTI-causing bacteria. Do you know what bacteria I should request testing for? E. Coli, but anything else? Or if I go to the doctor and request a test for UTI-causing bacteria, will they know what to test for?

Thanks for any help you can provide. And thank you for this website — it seems like a great resource.

Hi there, the approach for testing a partner may be different depending on whether the partner is male or female. Practitioners who correlate sex with UTI recurrence may ask for males to provide urine, semen and/or prostate fluid samples whereas females are generally asked for urine only. As for testing, standard culturing techniques can be inaccurate and it may be necessary to use more advanced testing. It helps to have a practitioner that has experience with this type of testing. If you want more info, feel free to get in touch directly. Melissa

Wild says:

I’m male. 🙂 I should have specified that — sorry! I’ll get in touch directly for more information, but if you have any recommendations for males in this position, I’m sure that would be helpful for anyone who stumbles across this post.

That helps to know! Because most practitioners are unlikely to consider whether a partner is contributing to a chronic UTI issue, there’s a good chance you’ll need to raise this possibility yourself. Chronic UTI specialists have described cases where a male partner has asymptomatic prostatitis and has required treatment in addition to their partner being treated, in order to break the cycle. This is an angle considered by the specialists listed on our site, but you can always try your own doctor first. It would be great to hear anything you find out. Melissa

nancy says:

Tried to submit results of the UTI Quiz, but kept getting a message saying “provide valid email address.” (the email address I provided was a valid email)

Thanks for letting us know. Sorry! As far as I’m aware that hasn’t happened before. Can you send me an email via our contact form so I can look into it? Melissa

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