By Dr Lee Fang Jann, Consultant Urologist, Starmed Specialist Centre
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are one of the most frequent infections in women. Around 50-60% of women will develop UTIs in their lifetime. As most women know, the symptoms of this condition are extremely uncomfortable. Women are more likely to develop UTIs than men because women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. Here are some tips to help avoid UTIs in the first place.
It’s recommended to drink between 6–8 glasses of water or other liquids a day to help flush bacteria out of your urinary tract. Drinking adequate fluid also means your urine will be less concentrated. To stay hydrated and meet your fluid needs, it's best to drink water throughout the day and always when you're thirsty.
Urinating often prevents stagnation of urine in the bladder and the propagation of harmful bacteria. Take the time to empty your bladder completely and go for a bathroom break whenever you feel the urge. Avoid holding your urine unnecessarily.
Always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading pathogens from the anus to the urethra. Change sanitary napkins often as the blood on sanitary napkins is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
Genital friction during intercourse increases the presence of germs in the urethra. Urinating after sex helps to prevent bacteria from entering the bladder.
Avoid irritation of the urethra from bubble baths or strongly perfumed soaps. Skip douches, deodorant sprays, scented powders, and other potentially irritating feminine products.
A diaphragm, spermicide, or spermicide-lubricated condom can make you more likely to get a UTI because they all can contribute to bacterial growth. Consider using a condom with plain lubricant.
Drinking a glass of cranberry juice each day may help prevent recurrent UTIs. New research also suggests a similar effect from other cranberry products, including dried cranberries and dietary supplements. Cranberries contain compounds that may stop certain bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract wall.
If you experience a frequent and urgent need to urinate, persistent discomfort in the lower abdomen, a burning sensation when urinating, or smelly urine, you may be suffering from a urinary tract infection. Your doctor will usually order a urine analysis to confirm the diagnosis before prescribing a course of antibiotics. If not treated promptly, the infection can travel up to the kidneys and cause more serious problems.
In cases of repeated urinary tract infections (more than 3 a year), you should consider getting yourself checked by a specialist and discuss a longer-term solution.
Dr Lee Fang Jann is a fully accredited Urologist by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Singapore Medical Council (SMC) practising at Starmed Specialist Centre. Starmed Specialist Centre is a one-stop private ambulatory care centre in Singapore, conveniently located in Central Singapore, just above Farrer Park MRT. They provide medical services performed on an outpatient basis, without hospital admission.