The Most Common Causes of UTIs and How to Prevent Them

If you’ve had a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) before, you know how frustrating and painful they can be.

And if you’re particularly susceptible to them and get them frequently, you’re probably ready to pull every strand of your hair out. They’re pretty much the most un-fun thing to go on down there. 

What is a UTI?

If you don’t already know, a UTI is a bacterial infection that can affect any part of your urinary system, e.g., your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra; however, the most common type of UTI occur in the last two.

While UTIs can happen in men, they’re much more common in women. Because women have a shorter urethra than men do, bacteria are more able to travel across and set up shop in the bladder, for example.

Additionally, you’re more susceptible to getting a UTI if you have diabetes, have kidney stones, or you’re post-menopausal.

You probably have a UTI if…

  • You have to urinate frequently
  • You experience painful or burning urination
  • Urinating doesn’t always bring relief
  • Urine is cloudy or discolored—or sometimes bloody
  • The urine smells funky
  • You experience cramping or pressure around your uterus
  • You have extreme fatigue
  • You get a fever and/or night sweats

How does a UTI occur?

The cause of UTI varies from person to person, but just a few of the things that can cause a UTI include:

  • Flights or long car rides: Because this reduces the amount of times you can go to the bathroom)
  • Dehydration: So try to get your daily eight glasses of water in!
  • Sex: The most common cause of a UTI, due to the transferring of bacteria. Sex can also cause small tears in the vagina and urethra, which can reduce your defenses to fight off an infection.

How to prevent UTIs from recurring

  • Staying well hydrated
  • Proper wiping: Wipe vagina back to anus
  • Urinate after sex: Don’t wait longer than 10 minutes afterwards. This will help wash any bacteria out.
  • Wear breathable cotton underwear

Treatment for UTIs

The best way to treat a UTI is to get antibiotics from your doctor. Because UTIs are usually caused by a type of bacteria, antibiotics should work to make it go away.

If it doesn’t go away, you may have heard that cranberry juice can help. While the research is mixed on this topic, it doesn’t hurt to try, right?

Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up your favorite type of cranberry juice and aim for a glass a day to see if it helps your symptoms. The science does that say cranberries contain an active ingredient that reduces the ability of bacteria to stick to your bladder wall.

Additionally, there’s something called D-Mannose, which works in the same way as cranberry juice. This is available as a supplement, but be sure to ask your doctor or urologist first if it’s safe to take.

In general, always ask your doctor about what might be the best thing to do. Everyone’s different, and so are everyone’s UTIs!

Want to know more about UTIs and how to stop them from recurring? To hear Dr. James Farrell discuss advice for women who always seem to get UTIs, watch the video below!

Have you ever had experiences with recurring UTIs? Tell us how you resolved the issue.