Tips for Keeping Your Genitals Clean to Prevent a UTI

Each year, millions of Americans experience the uncomfortable symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs), like pain or burning when urinating, frequent urges to urinate, and belly or back pain. UTIs may be relatively common, but that doesn’t mean they’re not serious, and while they can be treated, it’s important to do all you can to prevent them in the first place.

Alfred Shtainer, MD, FACS, helps patients at Adult and Pediatric Urology find relief for urinary tract infections, preventing serious complications. 

Here, Dr. Shtainer offers 10 tips to help you reduce your own risk of UTIs by keeping your genital area clean and healthy.

1. Wipe front to back

After going to the bathroom, always wipe from front to back, regardless of whether you urinate or have a bowel movement. If you wipe from back to front, you can bring bacteria from your anus forward to your urethra, significantly increasing the risk of infection. Wiping front to back avoids contamination and the infection that can follow.

2. Drink plenty of water

Drinking water throughout the day supports normal, regular urination, which in turn washes away bacteria from your urinary tract. Regular urination keeps bacteria in check, making it harder for bacteria to cause an infection.

3. Wash your genitals before and after sex

It’s not uncommon to have bacteria on the skin around your genitals. Washing the area before having sex prevents bacteria from entering your urinary tract during intercourse. Washing the area afterward removes residue and supports healthy genitals.

4. Urinate after sex

It’s also a good idea to urinate after having intercourse. Urinating helps flush out bacteria or other germs that may have entered the urinary tract during sex.

5. Wash your genitals daily

In addition to washing your genitals before and after sex, it’s a good idea to wash the area once a day. Daily washing with mild soap and water removes bacteria that can cause both infections and odors.

6. Avoid harsh cleansing products

Don’t be tempted to use scented soaps, perfumes, or deodorants, all of which contain fragrances and chemicals that can cause irritation and make it easier for bacteria to cause infection. Choose mild, unscented cleansers instead. You should also avoid douching to prevent disrupting the natural balance of helpful organisms in your vagina.

7. Take showers instead of baths

A warm bath can definitely be relaxing, but when you bathe, you’re sitting in dirty water. If you want to enjoy a bath, take a shower first to cleanse yourself, then rinse off in the shower after your bath to remove soaps and other products used in the bath.

8. Don’t hold in urine

Sure, it’s not always convenient to stop what you’re doing to run to the bathroom. But holding in urine for a long period can provide bacteria with a chance to multiply, and it’s not good for your kidneys, either. If you feel you need to urinate, take a break from what you’re doing and make time to go.

9. Wear clean, breathable underwear

Underwear made of breathable materials like cotton prevents bacterial buildup. Change your underwear daily, and skip tight-fitting underwear that can trap moisture and warmth, creating an ideal environment for bacteria and infections.

10. Think twice about tampons

Tampons may be more convenient than pads, especially if you lead an active lifestyle. But tampons can cause irritation and may also lead to bacterial buildup, especially if they’re not changed frequently. Whichever option you choose, be sure to change your pad or tampon often.

Early UTI treatment is essential for preventing serious complications, like permanent kidney damage. If you suspect you have a UTI, request an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Shtainer and the team at Adult and Pediatric Urology in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, New York,  today.

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