Preventing Urinary Tract Infections: Advice From An Ob-Gyn

What woman doesn’t dread a UTI (urinary tract infection)? The discomfort can be overwhelming, and the need for prescription meds requires access to a physician.  Since an ill-timed UTI (weekend or holiday) is on my list of “things to avoid at all costs,”  I asked my ob/gyn, Dr. Greg Banks to share his advice on preventing UTI’s and avoiding this unfortunate situation.

 Dr. Greg Banks

Dr. Greg Banks, Birmingham, ALFor most women, the most frustrating and painful event is a UTI. Weekends tend to be the most popular for the “bedroom blues” UTI. The female urethra is short and allows bacteria easy access to the bladder. Intercourse, vigorous exercise, and poor vaginal flora allow the urethra to colonize the bladder with e coli or other bacteria.

The vagina may harbor up to 200 different types of bacteria, and up 19 can be pathogenic. This serves as a nearby source of disease causing bugs. The key to avoiding the unwanted UTI events lies in controlling the vaginal “garden” of bacteria. If you have frequent bacterial infections of the vagina, you should see your physician and try medications such as Flagyl, Metrogel, or Clindesse.

I often have Boric Acid Vaginal suppositories compounded at a pharmacy with acidophilus added to serve as a probiotic after the acidity of the vagina is restored. The vaginal pH is 4.2, while blood or seminal fluid is at 7.4. The suppositories help to control the disturbance caused by these vaginal visitors.

Cranberry tablets are another way to prevent UTI’s.  You can’t drink enough cranberry juice to supply sufficient tannins called proanthocyanidins that prevent e coli from sticking to bladder walls, but you can get these from cranberry tablets.

In the case that the preventive measures don’t work, some patients ask for antibiotics to keep on hand. I give my patients with frequent UTI’s an antibiotic to take after intercourse or to have on hand in case of emergency bladder issues. This can prevent emergency room trips and a great deal of distress for women who have frequent UTI’s.

Often you can prevent UTI’s by drinking water and avoiding heavy sugar drinks. Caffeine will cause bladder spasm and urine loss. Voiding frequently is good for bladder health, and voiding following intercourse will help prevent an infection. Where UTI’s are concerned, the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is fitting and prevents the resistant bacteria that come from frequent and repeated antibiotic use.