If you’ve ever had a UTI before, it’s probably not something that you ever want to experience again. In fact, even if you’ve never had a UTI before, you almost certainly already know that it’s not something that you want to get. A UTI–aka a Urinary Tract Infection–happens when there is an unhealthy amount of bacteria in the vagina, either from outside sources or from bacteria that’s already there but has multiplied. This leads a burning sensation when you go to the bathroom, feeling like you have to pee all the time, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting–which, obviously, is not an ideal way to feel. Like, ever.
There are some things you probably know you have to do to prevent UTIs, like peeing after sex and drinking cranberry juice (okay, there’s no scientific evidence to back this up, but a lot of people swear it works, and it’s worth trying!), but there are actually a bunch of other, lesser-known things you can do to prevent them too. So, if you want to make sure that you never get a UTI again, check out these weird things you can do to stave ’em off:
Eating BlueberriesSo, yeah--you've almost certainly heard that, though there's actually no scientific evidence that proves this, one of the most common ways people try to treat a UTI is by drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements. But what most people don't know is that blueberries actually have many of the same antioxidants that cranberries do, which means that they're as effective for fighting UTIs as cranberries. Plus, blueberries aren't quite as tart as cranberries, so drinking blueberry juice or eating plain blueberries is easier than eating cranberries. Technically, this is more of a healing measure than a preventative one, but preemptively consuming antioxidants that ward off UTIs certainly can't hurt. Image source: iStock
Not Holding Your PeeIf you hold your pee for a long time, it basically becomes stagnant in your bladder. And, if you've ever seen stagnant water outside, you probably already know that stagnant water often creates a breeding ground for things like mosquitoes and pond scum. This can happen in your bladder too, only with bacteria (not pond scum!), which is basically what causes UTIs. So, just make sure that you aren't constantly holding your pee--doing it every now and then is fine, but if you do it on a regular basis, you might find that you're more prone to UTIs. Image source: iStock
Not Using PadsIf you've ever gotten a UTI after your period, you might want to stop using pads. Pads basically collect your menstrual flow in your underwear, which creates a moist environment that makes it easier for bacteria to grow. Using tampons or a menstrual cup, on the other hand, can keep the overall area drier and less prone to infection. Image source: iStock
Staying Away From Certain ContraceptivesCertain contraceptives, like condoms, have been linked to better overall vaginal health. Other contraceptives? Not so much. Specifically not-so-good for your vagina are spermicides and diaphragms, since spermicide can introduce bacteria to your vagina and mess with your vagina's pH, while diaphragms can limit your ability to completely empty your bladder. Obviously, spermicide and diaphragms are better than no contraceptives at all if you're in a pinch, but, if you're prone to UTIs, try not to make them your primary method of birth control. Image source: iStock
Skipping The Bath BombOr bubble bath, or bath salts, or super-perfumed bathing oil. These all seem fun, but usually contain some chemicals, perfumes, and dyes that, when they come into contact with your vagina (which they almost certainly will during a bath) can irritate your urethra and increase your chances of getting an infection down there. If you love bath bombs, you don't have to swear off them forever, but try to use ones with natural formulas, and try not to use them more than once a week. Image source: iStock
Reconsidering Baths AltogetherEven if you aren't using fancy bath products, if you find that you get UTIs all the time and you aren't quite sure why, you might want to forgo baths in favor of showers. Baths usually aren't a main cause for UTIs, but they can exacerbate their effect--it creates a super moist environment down there, which basically breeds bacteria, and can also redistribute the bacteria you've rinsed off your skin back into your vagina. Image source: iStock
Drinking A LotOf water, that is. Besides just keeping you hydrated, this helps ensure that you pee more. This is annoying (as someone who drinks a lot of water and has to pee roughly twelve thousand times a day because of it, I can vouch for this personally) but it also means that you're flushing bacteria out of your system at a more constant rate than you would otherwise, which helps prevent infection. Image source: iStock
Eating Anti-Inflammatory FoodOne good way to prevent UTIs? Keeping your body's levels of inflammation under control. This can be done by reducing the amount of sugar you're eating and increasing anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. These include things like green tea, leafy greens, strawberries, salmon, and olive oil (among others) which, besides just being good for you, can reduce inflammation in your bladder and make it harder for it to get infected. Image source: iStock
Have you ever tried any of these things? Which ones? Let us know in the comments!