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Prevention of Urinary Tract Infection in Women

The following suggestions are useful for preventing urinary tract infections:

  1. Cranberry Juice: Drink at least 10 ounces of cranberry juice cocktail daily. Studies have shown significant drops in urinary tract infection rates in elderly women who regularly consumed this amount of juice daily. Interestingly, the effect did not correlate with urine acidification. Cranberry juice contains proanthocyanidins (condensed tannins) that inhibit adherence of Escherichia coli to the urinary tract. Bacterial adherence to mucosal surfaces is a prerequisite for the development of infection. These types of compounds, which are found also in blueberries and other vaccinium species, by preventing adherence of such bacteria as Escherichia coli (a very common pathogen causing urinary tract infections) to the urinary tract help prevent infection.

  2. Hygiene for the Groin Area: The vaginal and groin area should be washed with a mild unscented soap daily followed by rinsing and drying the area with a clean, soft and absorbent cloth. Accumulation of moisture in the groin area during the day should be prevented: avoid wearing tight panty hose and jeans. Wear underpants with a cotton rather than a nylon crotch. Powdering of the groin area with cornstarch-based powders can help prevent moisture accumulation. Do not wear a wet bathing suit for long periods of time. Prevent contamination of the vaginal area by bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract: always wipe from front to back after bowel movements.

  3. Avoid Use of Irritants in the Groin Area: Avoid use of perfumed soaps, bath oils, bubble baths and talcum powders in this area-these can potentially cause irritation and inflammatory reactions that can lead to urinary tract infection. Only use mild laundry detergents for washing clothes, and make sure they have been well rinsed to remove residual detergent.

  4. Avoid Urine Retention in the Bladder: Take frequent restroom breaks during the day. Urinate soon after intercourse to completely empty the bladder. Complete emptying can be attained by leaning forward on the toilet and gently pressing out the last few drops of urine, after urine flow has stopped during normal urination.

  5. Menstrual Period Hygiene: During menstrual periods, frequently change whatever form of sanitary protection you use. Tampons may put pressure on the urethra promoting infection. Be sure you use products that can be worn comfortably.

  6. Keep the Urinary Tract Flowing Each Day: Drink a lot of fluid daily (at least 6, 8-ounce glasses). Be sure to increase your fluid intake to compensate for increased insensible loss of body fluid when you are exposed to hot environmental temperatures.

  7. Use of Diaphragms and Birth Control Devices: If you use a diaphragm during intercourse, make sure it's the correct size. It should fit snugly and comfortably. Pressure from the rim of a diaphragm can predispose to urinary tract infection.

  8. Postmenopausal Susceptibility: Following menopause there may be increased susceptibility to urinary tract infections due to the lack of estrogen effect on its epithelial lining. Estrogen replacement therapy should be considered to overcome this problem.

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