Health Concerns

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations

Fluid Intake

Physicians often recommend that patients with UTIs increase their fluid intake. The theory behind this recommendation is that increasing fluid intake will increase the amount of urine produced, which will help flush out bacteria (Denman 1992). Although this is a common physician suggestion, it is not clear how effective it is at treating or preventing UTIs. Some early studies found that more frequent urination reduces the amount of bacteria in the urine. However, studies examining whether increased urination reduces the incidence of UTI have not yielded conclusive results (Denman 1992; Beetz 2003). Regardless, poor fluid intake is a risk factor for recurrent UTI in female children (Stauffer 2004; Rudaitis 2009), and increased fluid intake does appear to be protective against more serious upper UTIs that can affect the kidneys (Beetz 2003).

Behavioral Measures

Some behavioral changes may also help prevent UTIs, particularly in children. Recurrent UTIs in female children are associated with infrequent urination, delaying urination after the urge to urinate manifests, and delaying of defecation, but not poor bathroom hygiene (Rudaitis 2009; Stauffer 2004). Similarly, women who delay urination for more than one hour post-urge have an increased risk of developing UTIs, which suggests that urinating shortly after feeling the need to urinate could help prevent UTIs. Avoiding diaphragms and spermicide as contraception methods may also prevent UTIs (Stapleton 1997). Although some sources suggest that urinating shortly before and after intercourse also helps to reduce a female’s risk of developing UTIs (University of Maryland Medical Center 2011; Hudson 2006), there is no conclusive evidence that frequent voiding or voiding after intercourse significantly reduces UTI risk (Stapleton 1997; Hooton 2012). Other behavioral interventions that may reduce the risk of developing a UTI include wearing cotton underwear, avoiding tight-fitting clothing, and wiping from front-to-back to prevent transportation of bacteria from the anus to the urethra (WomensHealth.gov 2008).