There's no question that any urinary tract infection (UTI) is annoying on its own, but it can be even worse when it's part of a recurrent UTI. According to the Office on Women's Health, a recurrent UTI is defined as two UTIs within a period of six months or three UTIs in a year. Considering that a UTI often leads to pain and burning while urinating and even blood in the urine, it's no wonder why you'd want to avoid this issue from happening ever again. Luckily, you have a few options.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a few factors might put a woman more at risk for a recurrent UTI. These can include: an inherited genetic risk, an abnormal urinary tract shape, and bacteria entering the body during intercourse. But before you focus on how to prevent a UTI from returning, it's important to treat the one you already have. Experts recommend a visit to a trusted doctor or nurse, who may run a few tests to figure out why your UTI won't go away. This might include a urine culture test, a visual exam, or a computerized scan, depending on the situation.
After the tests are complete, you might need to take a small dose of antibiotics for a certain period of time to treat your recurrent UTI. In other cases, your doctor might put you on self-directed antibiotic therapy — meaning you'll have a specific supply of antibiotics to take at the first sign of a future infection or even right after sex. Occasionally, vaginal estrogen therapy might be needed as a treatment.
Important: Some common UTI symptoms may actually be signs of another illness — such as interstitial cystitis — so you may need an entirely different treatment depending on your specific diagnosis.
How to Prevent a Recurrent UTI
Experts have varying opinions about the absolute best way to prevent a recurrent UTI, but there are a few small lifestyle changes you can make right now that may help you out a lot in the long run.
- Drink lots of water.
- Take regular bathroom breaks.
- Urinate shortly after intercourse.
- Wipe from front to back after using the restroom.
- Avoid any scented sprays or products "down there."
Remember: You deserve to feel happy and healthy — all over your body!