Urinary Tract Infection

Preventing UTI​

Preventing recurrent UTIs in females — Females with recurrent UTIs may be advised to take steps to help prevent them, including one or more of the following:

Changes in birth control — Females who develop frequent bladder infections and use spermicides, particularly those who also use a diaphragm, may be encouraged to use an alternate method of birth control.

Over-the-counter products — Taking cranberry juice, cranberry tablets, or a supplement called “D-mannose” has been promoted as one way to help prevent frequent bladder infections. However, several studies demonstrate no benefit with cranberry, and those studies showing that cranberry and D-mannose reduce the risk of recurrent bladder infections are not convincing.

Drinking more fluid — Increasing your fluid intake can help prevent bladder infections.

Urinating after intercourse — Some health care providers recommend this, because it might help flush out germs that could get into the bladder. There is no proof it is effective in preventing bladder infections, but it also is not harmful.

Postmenopausal females — Postmenopausal females who develop recurrent bladder infections may benefit from using vaginal estrogen. Vaginal estrogen is available in a flexible ring that is worn in the vagina for three months (eg, Estring), a small vaginal insert (Vagifem), or a cream (eg, Premarin or Estrace).

Antibiotics — Preventive antibiotics may be recommended if you repeatedly develop bladder infections and have not responded to other preventive measures. Antibiotics are highly effective in preventing recurrent bladder infections but can cause side effects and promote the growth of resistant bacteria, which are more difficult to treat if they cause subsequent UTIs. Therefore, antibiotics for preventing UTIs should only be considered after trying the above preventive approaches. Preventive antibiotics can be taken in several different ways:

  • Continuous antibiotics – You can take a low dose of an antibiotic once per day or three times per week. The antibiotic prophylaxis regimen, if tolerated, is usually assessed at three to six months to determine whether it has been helpful. If so, it may be continued for several more months to years.
  • Antibiotics following intercourse – In females who develop UTIs after sex, taking a single low-dose antibiotic after intercourse can help to prevent bladder infections. This usually results in less antibiotic use than continuous antibiotics.
  • Self-treatment – A plan to begin antibiotics at the first sign of a bladder infection may be recommended in some situations. Before starting this regimen, it is important that you have had testing (urine cultures) at least once in the past to confirm that your symptoms were caused by a bladder infection. This is because it’s possible to have symptoms of a bladder infection but not actually have an infection, in which case antibiotics would not be helpful.