UTIs: Fact or Fiction? - Live Better | Revere Health

Urinary tract infections are painful and frustrating, and because as many as one out of every two women will suffer through a UTI in her lifetime, myths about their causes and treatments abound. We’ll differentiate fact from fiction.

1) Cranberry Juice cures and prevents UTIs

False. Only an antibiotic or antimicrobial can cure an established UTI. When it comes to preventing UTIs, clinical studies have produced mixed results. Cranberries do contain a tannin that prevents E. coli bacteria, the most common cause of UTIs, from adhering to the bladder walls where they can cause infection. “But most of the studies have shown that juice and supplements don’t have enough of this active ingredient, A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs), to prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract,” says urologist Courtenay Moore, MD.

2) Cotton underwear is the healthiest kind

True. Natural, breathable fibers keep your genital area dry, unlike synthetics such as nylon, Lycra and spandex, which trap moisture and heat and encourage the growth of yeast.

3) Holding your urine when you need to go helps strengthen your bladder muscle

False. Your bladder probably holds about 15 ounces of liquid. Retaining it when you have the urge to go not only stretches your bladder, it provides an optimum breeding ground for the growth of bacteria that cause infections. Always urinate when you need to, don’t rush, and be sure you empty your bladder completely.

4) Condoms, sponges and diaphragms are the best birth control methods for a woman who is susceptible to UTIs

False. Diaphragms can promote bacteria growth, while unlubricated condoms and spermicides cause irritation. Try switching to lubricated condoms without spermicide or using a nonspermicidal lubricant, advises the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

5) UTIs are common during pregnancy

True. Up to 10 percent of expectant mothers will get a urinary tract infection at some point during their pregnancies, according to the March of Dimes. Shifts in the position of the urinary tract coupled with tissue changes caused by hormones make it easier for bacteria to travel up the ureters to the kidneys and cause infection. Kidney infections can be life-threatening for mother and baby and can result in preterm labor and low birth weight. Obstetricians typically screen pregnant women for bacteria in the urine during the first three months of pregnancy.

6) Sex can cause UTIs

True. A startling 80 percent of premenopausal women with a UTI have had sex within the previous 24 hours. Intercourse brings a woman’s urethra into contact with the bacteria from the genital area and anus. Bacteria enter through her urethra and travel to the bladder. To help prevent this, urinate and then clean your genitals both before and after sex. Drink a full glass of water after intercourse to help flush the bacteria out of your body.

Some women are allergic to their male partner’s sperm, and others develop infections from the friction caused by certain positions.

7) You should stop taking your antibiotics as soon as you feel like your UTI has healed

False: It’s essential that you complete the full course of the drug your urologist has prescribed for you, even if you’re feeling better. “If treatment stops too soon, the drug may not kill all the bacteria. You may become sick again, and the remaining bacteria may become resistant to the antibiotic that you’ve taken,” cautions the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Do you need some help sorting out what’s causing your urinary tract infections? Revere Health Urology works with you and your primary care physician to develop an individualized care plan to treat and help prevent UTIs based on the latest technology and research.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.

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