Urinary tract infections in adults - Prevention 

Preventing a urinary tract infection 

Not all urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be prevented, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing an infection.

Cranberry juice and capsules

Drinking cranberry juice may help to prevent UTIs. If you have had recurring UTIs, higher-strength cranberry capsules are recommended. These are available from most pharmacists.

Don't drink cranberry juice or take cranberry capsules if you are taking warfarin (a medicine that is used to prevent blood clots).

Treat constipation promptly

Constipation (where it is difficult to defecate, or poo) can increase your chances of developing a UTI.

Recommended treatments for constipation include:

  • increasing the amount of fibre in your diet (20g to 30g of fibre a day)
  • using a mild laxative on a short-term basis
  • drinking plenty of fluids

See your GP if your symptoms don't improve after 14 days. Children should see their GP if their symptoms have not improved after seven days.

Diaphragms and condoms

If you're a woman, using a diaphragm for contraception can increase the risk of getting a UTI. This is because the diaphragm may press on your bladder and prevent it from emptying completely when you urinate.

If you use a diaphragm and have recurring UTIs, you might want to consider changing to another method of contraception. There are 15 different methods of contraception to choose from.

If you get recurring UTIs and you use condoms, try using condoms that don’t have a spermicidal lubricant on them - it will say whether it does on the packet. Spermicidal lubricant can cause irritation and make it more likely that you’ll get a UTI. There are lots of condoms that have non-spermicidal lubricant, so use these instead.

Other useful advice

The following advice may be useful in helping you to keep your bladder and urethra free from bacteria:

  • go to the toilet as soon as you feel the need to urinate, rather than holding it in
  • wipe from front to back after going to the toilet
  • practise good hygiene by washing your genitals every day, and before having sex
  • empty your bladder after having sex

Page last reviewed: 09/04/2012

Next review due: 09/04/2014

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