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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are easy to treat, but the back pain, frequent urination and incredible urge to pee can be very uncomfortable and inconvenient.

So, UTIs can be easily treated with the right antibiotics, but there are plenty of things you can do to prevent one from happening in the first place. There’s no 100 percent way to prevent them, but a few behavior changes can help protect you, especially if you are extra prone to getting UTIs.

Drink More Water

On top of the many other benefits of drinking water (promoting weight loss, relieving constipation, improving energy levels), getting enough water each day will also help protect against UTIs. UTIs happen in one of two ways: outside bacteria gets pushed into the urethra or bacteria already inside the urinary system builds up.  Drinking more water addresses the latter cause. You not only have to use the restroom more often (and are getting rid of bacteria more often), but water dilutes the urine and makes it harder for bacteria to grow.

Pee After Sex

Even if you use a condom and both partners have been tested, sex is a perfect opportunity for outside bacteria to be introduced inside your body. Certain brands of products, such as spermicide or scented lubricant, can increase the risk of UTIs by upsetting the bacterial makeup inside your body. Using the bathroom after sex not only flushes out bacteria that may have been introduced, but also bacteria that may have migrated up toward the bladder during intercourse.

Don’t Douche

Vaginas are already self-cleaning and don’t need help from a douche. Douching can also wash out good bacteria, changing your body’s balance and allowing the harmful bacteria to take over. Also, douching can complicate infections or increase your risk if you use it to reduce vaginal odors. If you have an unusual odor, then it should be checked by a medical professional for a proper diagnosis.

Wear the Right Underwear

Silky underwear may feel nice against your skin, but only breathable fabrics like cotton avoid trapping moisture, which can lead to increased risk of a UTI. Synthetic materials and tight-fitted clothing can trap moisture and become a breeding ground for bacteria. 

Urinary tract infections are common and easy to treat. Many people will get at least one infection in their life. However, UTIs are also easy to prevent. Following the above tips should help a great deal in reducing your chances of getting one. And, if you ever suspect that you might have a UTI, make an appointment with your health care provider as soon as you can.

Casey Spiegel is a nurse practitioner with Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

Tags: UTIs, reproductivehealth, stayinghealthytips, urinarytractinfections, sexualhealth