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Preventing Urinary Tract Infections

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection in the part of the body that produces and eliminates urine. The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, bladder, ureters, which are tubes that carry urine to the bladder, and the urethra, which carries urine out of the body. An infection can occur at any point along this tract.


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Your NYU Langone doctor may recommend making lifestyle changes to help prevent UTIs, particularly if you get them often.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Drinking water can encourage urination, which helps flush bacteria out of the urinary tract. Your NYU Langone doctor may recommend drinking more water than you typically do.

Some studies have shown that certain substances in cranberries can prevent bacteria that cause a UTI from adhering to the bladder wall. As a result, your doctor may recommend taking cranberry extract supplements or drinking concentrated cranberry juice regularly.

Maintain Good Urinary and Bowel Habits

To avoid a UTI, it’s important to take steps to prevent bacteria from entering the urinary tract. Your doctor may advise you to urinate whenever you feel the urge. Holding urine in can trap bacteria in the bladder.

Your doctor may discuss other habits that are believed by some to be helpful in avoiding a UTI. For women, this includes wiping from front to back after urination or a bowel movement to help prevent bacteria in the anus from entering the urethra. After sexual intercourse, women may flush bacteria from the body by urinating, and both men and women should clean the opening to the urethra.

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Chronic diarrhea can be associated with recurrent urinary tract infections. Your doctor determines any treatments for this condition.

Avoid Irritating Products

Some personal care products, such as scented toilet paper, spermicides, douches, and deodorant sprays and powder, can irritate the urethra or lead to UTIs in some women. Your doctor may recommend avoiding them.

Take Showers Instead of Baths

Bacteria grow more quickly in warm and hot water. Our doctors may recommend avoiding hot tubs and taking showers instead of baths. The soap in bubble baths can irritate the urinary tract and should be avoided.

Our Research and Education in Urinary Tract Infections

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.