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How to Prevent Bladder Infections

By Dr. Kristie

Bladder infections (also known as cystitis) are among the most common reasons women visit their doctors. It's estimated that 25 percent of women will have a bladder infection in their lifetime and that 80 percent of these women will experience a repeat infection within the next year.

Men are unlikely to develop bladder infections because anatomically their urethras are so long that bacteria have a hard time reaching the bladder. Fortunately, if you’re burdened by frequent UTI (urinary tract infections) there are a number of simple steps you can take to reduce their frequency.

What causes a bladder infection to occur in the first place?

Bladder infections happen when bacteria travel up the urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the outside world) into the bladder. Once there, bacteria cling to the lining of the bladder and begin to replicate.

This bacterial growth causes an inflammatory process, giving rise to the unpleasant symptoms you know of as a bladder infection. The symptoms include burning with urination, increased urinary frequency and pressure, cloudy or bloody urine, nausea, fever and pelvic pain.

Interestingly some women can linger with mild symptoms for days while other women become incapacitated with bladder infection symptoms in a few hours. Once symptoms develop medical treatment is generally necessary.

It’s important to treat bladder infections not only to eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms but also to prevent spread of the bacteria into the kidneys which can create a more serious health problem.

What are some steps you can take to prevent annoying bladder infections from occurring?

Drink plenty of fluids. Most people fail to consume adequate quantities of fluid. This is particularly true if you work outdoors or live in hot dry climates. The more fluid you consume, the more urine you produce.

The more frequently you urinate the more bacteria you wash out of your bladder and the less bacteria left in your bladder to potentially cause an infection. Water is an excellent fluid choice; it’s inexpensive, plentiful and calorie-free.

Empty your bladder before and after any sexual activity. With the amount of pressure and stimulation associated with sex, it’s very easy to introduce more bacteria into the urethra and bladder.

Some sexually active women who have frequent urinary tract infections can take a single dose of prescription oral antibiotics after sex to lower their potential for infection. Ask your doctor about this if you get frequent bladder infections.

Practice proper hygiene. Women should wipe from front to back to avoid transporting bacteria from the rectum to vagina. Women should also consider taking showers rather than baths for similar reasons. Feminine hygiene sprays and douches have been shown to increase the risk of bladder infections.

Avoid topical spermicides that contain nonoxynol-9. If you frequently get bladder infections and use a barrier birth control method in combination with topical spermicides speak to your doctor about alternative birth control methods.

Try drinking a couple of glasses of cranberry juice each day. The cranberry juice serves to increase the acidity of urine making it more difficult for bacteria to replicate. If you don't like the taste of cranberry juice try cranberry tablets instead.

Take the oral supplement D-Mannose. This is a natural sugar that is available without a prescription in tablet form. It is not readily absorbed in the intestines so it doesn’t cause weight gain or increase blood sugar levels.

D-Mannose has been shown to prevent infection causing bacteria from attaching to the bladder walls which in theory can reduce the frequency of bladder infections.


By incorporating these tips into your daily routine you can dramatically reduce the likelihood of having to endure the discomfort or inconvenience of a bladder infection. Should you develop lower urinary tract symptoms it’s important to contact your doctor for medical treatment.

About the Author

She is a Medical Doctor with a concentration in Family Practice. She also has an undergraduate degree in both Biology and Psychology and masters in Clinical Pathology.

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