If you have a vulva, you’ve probably had a urinary tract infection in your life. Or perhaps a whole lot of them. I know I have.
Because they suck and I don’t want you to go through them, here’s a quick tip sheet for preventing and avoiding ‘em.
Super-obvious disclaimer: I am not a medical professional of any kind, so you should take my advice with a grain of salt and check with your doctor if you’re unsure about anything. These tips are intended only for prevention and possibly very early treatment; if you’ve had an infection for more than a day or so and it isn’t going away, GO TO THE DOCTOR! UTIs can easily spread to your kidneys, which is bad news. Go go go.
Also, these tips are mostly intended for folks who have a vulva and vagina. I’m sure that many of the same tips apply to people who have penises, but I am not one of those people so I haven’t tested these suggestions for that kind of body.
1. Stay hydrated. The more frequently you pee, the harder it is for bacteria to get a foothold in your urinary tract. Simple as that.
2. When you have to pee, PEE. Don’t hold it in for ages, if you can help it. Go ASAP. (This sometimes means strategically ignoring prevention tip #1. If you know you’re going to be stuck in a bathroomless room for hours, it may be in your best interest to drink less water than you normally would, so you won’t have to hold it.)
3. Increase your cranberry intake. Cranberry juice (the unsweetened kind, not the sugary “cranberry juice cocktail” kind) has been proven to cut down on UTIs. If you can’t handle the bitter, tart flavor of the juice, you could also take cranberry pills.
4. Wipe from front to back only. Everyone with a vulva should already know this, but incase you didn’t… there you go. Fecal bacteria should never get anywhere near your urethra if you can help it.
5. Consume more alkaline foods. I can’t find 100% scientific confirmation of this, but some people swear that changing their diet to include more alkaline foods has helped their recurrent UTIs, since it changes the pH of your urine and therefore makes your urinary tract a more hostile environment for bacteria. Here’s a list of highly alkaline-forming foods and drinks.
6. Only insert clean things into your vagina. Keep your sex toys clean. Wash your hands before masturbating. Tell your lover(s) to keep their hands and nails clean. This is basic stuff but a lot of people forget about it.
7. Wear all- or mostly-cotton underwear, and not thongs. Cotton allows your vag to “breathe,” which helps with a whole host of potential vaginal and urinary issues. Thongs, on the other hand, can transport fecal bacteria from your butt to your vagina and/or urethra, so they’re best avoided if you have trouble with UTIs or other genital infections.
1. Drink a fuckton of water. Grab your biggest glass or bottle. Fill it with water. Drink it all. Pee when you have to. Repeat at least until peeing is no longer painful. If you catch your infection early enough, you may be able to flush it out this way (indeed, this is the main way I deal with UTIs, and I only end up needing to get antibiotics for maybe 1 out of every 5 UTIs I contract because this method is so effective for me).
2. Take some D-Mannose. It’s a white powder that you stir into water and drink. I have heard that cranberries may contain traces of D-Mannose and that this may be the reason cranberries are deemed effective against UTIs, but, again, there’s a lot of scientific disagreement and confusion about most things sexual. All I know is that a spoonful of D-Mannose in a huge glass of water has stopped my UTIs in their tracks many a time.
3. GO TO THE DAMN DOCTOR. Seriously, please do. If drinking tons of water doesn’t make a dent in your UTI after the first day or so, you need to get your ass to a doc and get some medicine. It may be a drag, but trust me, when the infection spreads to your kidneys and you’re sitting in the emergency room in a terrific amount of pain, you will wish you had gone to the doctor earlier. (And remember: whenever you take antibiotics, you should also take probiotics – either in pill form or through foods/drinks like yogurt or kombucha – to avoid getting a yeast infection from the medication.)
What’s your go-to preventative measure or home treatment for UTIs?