How Can You Treat Your Frequent Urinary Tract Infections?

Is There a Way to Put a Stop to Recurrent UTIs?

Pharmacist dispensing antibiotics
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Question: What are the treatments for frequent or recurrent urinary tract infections?

Answer:

You may have heard that if you get one urinary tract infection (UTI), you should get ready for more frequent / recurrent UTIs. The truth is, although four out of five women have a second UTI within 18 months of the last one, the majority of women only have one or, at most, a handful of UTIs over the course of their lifetime.

On the other hand, if you are a woman who has had at least three UTIs, you can probably expect to have future infections. If you experience three or more urinary tract infections per year, you should ask your healthcare provider about your treatment options. Though it is still unknown why some women experience UTIs more frequently than others, there are a multitude of ways in which you can make UTIs less likely to occur and, if you are in the midst of an infection, treat it.

Frequent, recurrent urinary tract infections may be treated in one of the following ways:

  • a six-month (or longer) course of low dose antibiotic (TMP/SMZ or nitrofurantoin) therapy. This therapy has been shown to be effective, though it can also, in rare cases, cause serious side effects.
  • a single dose of an antibiotic taken immediately after sexual intercourse
  • using antibiotics for one to two days as soon as UTI symptoms begin.

    If you have recurrent UTIs and bladder infections, you may also be interested in purchasing an at-home test for UTIs, which is available over-the-counter without a prescription.

    And in order to prevent UTIs going forward, there are a number of things you can try:

    • regularly drinking cranberry juice
    • drinking plenty of water every day
    • taking showers rather than baths
    • cleansing the vaginal area before and after sexual intercourse
    • wiping from front to back after bowel movements to help prevent bacteria from the anus from entering the vagina or urethra
    • avoiding the use of feminine hygiene sprays, powders, and douches

    Some doctors also recommend taking vitamin C at the first sign of a UTI. And other doctors also counsel their patients with recurrent UTIs on the risks inherent with spermicide use, frequent sexual intercourse, and new sexual partners.

    Your doctor may also perform a cystoscopy. This procedure involves the use of a cytoscope—a long, thin tube with a lens at the end—to look inside your urethra and bladder. Your doctor will be looking for any abnormalities or issues that could be causing the UTI to keep coming back.

    UTIs are a pain—literally. But at least there are so many ways to treat and prevent them. It can feel good to have the opportunity to be so proactive about your health.

    For Further Reading on Your Average UTI:

    Source: The National Women's Health Information Center (NHWIC)

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