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Chronic Urinary Tract Infections

Most healthy women do not have chronic urinary tract infections (also known as recurrent urinary tract infections). Chronic urinary tract infections are defined as: 2 infections in 6 months or 3 infections in 1 year.
However, about 1 out of every 5 women who get a urinary tract infection will get another one. Men and patients with diabetes or other problems that make it difficult to urinate may be at a greater risk of developing a UTI.
Patients who get recurrent urinary tract infections should talk with their doctor about special bladder infection treatment plans. Doctors may refer patients to an urologist, who is a doctor who specializes in urinary problems. Patients who have chronic urinary tract infections may have to take antibiotics over a longer period to help prevent repeat infections.
Men who have urinary tract infections may need to take antibiotics for a longer period of time because bacteria can hide deep in the prostate tissue. It is important for men to see their doctor for treatment that fits their needs.

Preventing a Urinary Tract Infection

There are steps you can take to prevent a urinary tract infection. However, even if you follow these steps you can still get a urinary tract infection.
Suggestions for preventing a urinary tract infection include:
  • Drinking plenty of fluid, especially water, to flush the bacteria from your system. Aim for 6 to 8 glasses a day.
  • Drinking cranberry juice and taking vitamin C, both of which increase the acid in your urine so bacteria can't grow easily. Cranberry juice also makes your bladder wall slippery, so bacteria can't stick to it.
  • Urinating frequently and going when you first feel the urge. Bacteria can grow when urine stays in the bladder too long.
  • Urinating shortly after sex. This can flush away bacteria that might have entered your urethra during sex.
  • Always wiping from front to back after using the toilet, especially after a bowel movement.
  • Wearing cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes so that air can keep the area dry. Avoid tight-fitting jeans and nylon underwear, which trap moisture and can help bacteria grow.
  • Switching forms of birth control. For women, using a diaphragm or spermicide for birth control can lead to a UTI because it may increase bacteria growth. Patients who have trouble with urinary tract infections should consider modifying their birth control method.
  • Discontinuing use of unlubricated or spermicidal condoms. Using unlubricated condoms or spermicidal condoms increases irritation, which allows bacteria to grow. Patients who have trouble with urinary tract infections should consider switching to lubricated condoms without spermicide or using a nonspermicidal lubricant.
(Click Urinary Tract Infections Prevention for more information on preventing urinary tract infections.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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