Preventing Urinary Tract Infections Through Good Personal Hygiene

5 Personal Hygiene Practices to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

Having a urinary tract infection (UTI) can be painful and make you miserable. If you are serious about preventing urinary tract infections or UTI, the first thing you need to do is always practice good personal hygiene. Here are tips for good hygiene practices that can reduce the risk of getting a UTI, especially in women.

Most urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria that normally live in your intestinal tract and are present around your anus and in your feces.

While they don't cause problems there, they can cause infection if they make their way to your urethra, which is located just in front of a women's vagina, and into the bladder. Knowing how to keep your body clean can help prevent that.

Personal Hygiene Practices to Prevent UTIs

1. Always Wipe from Front to Back, Never Back to Front

Always wiping from front to back after a bowel movement or urinating. Never wipe from back to front. This is a tip that you should teach to young girls from the earliest stage of potty training. The bacteria that get out of control in a urinary tract infection are present around the anus and in feces. You don't want to transfer those germs to the area of your urethra or vagina. If you always use a front to back wiping technique, you will reduce that risk.

Use a clean piece of tissue with each swipe of a wipe. Don't wipe back and forth with a soiled piece of tissue.

When wiping after you urinate, always wipe front to back, even though you aren't wiping away feces. This helps ensure that you aren't bringing fecal bacteria forward.

2. Clean the Area of Your Rectum and Vagina Daily

Make sure you keep the skin around and between your rectum and vagina clean by washing with soap and water at least once daily.

This keeps the fecal bacteria from flourishing in that area.

3. Take Showers Instead of Prolonged Baths

A shower is more likely to remove bacteria and wash the anal and genital area clean, while a long bath may not do the job as well, as recommended by the CDC. If you use a washcloth, first clean the genital area and then clean the anus. Don't use a soiled area of the washcloth on your genital area, which is where the urethra is that lead to your bladder and urinary tract.

4. Don't Douche or Use Sprays or Powders in Your Genital Area

While these practices may seem like they promote hygiene, they are not recommended by health authorities such as the CDC. Instead, douching may increase your risk of a urinary tract infection, as may using sprays and powders.

5. Urinate and Wash Before and After Sexual Activity

Urinating before and after sexual activity helps keep the bladder flushed and keep the possibly infectious bacteria at bay. Women who wash both before and after sexual intercourse may lower their risk of developing a urinary tract infection.

Sources:

Abdelaziz, AlsayedSaad et al. "Impact Of Genital Hygiene And Sexual Activity On Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy". Urology Annals 7.4 (2015): 478.

Centers for Disease Control and Infection. Urinary Tract Infections https://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/uti.html

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