How to prevent and treat a UTI

A urinary tract infection, also known as a UTI, is an infection that affects the urinary system, causing a constant urge to urinate, pain when urinating and pelvic pain. This common infection can often be treated and cause no future problems, if cared for appropriately and in a timely manner. 
What causes a UTI?
A UTI develops when bacteria that normally live in the gut invade the bladder. Women are especially prone to developing UTIs due to the short distance between the anus and vaginal area, as well as their short urethras. 
How can you prevent a UTI?
It helps to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Also, making sure that you empty your bladder regularly throughout the day and avoid holding your urine will help prevent bacteria from overgrowing. Good hygiene practices when using the bathroom, like wiping front to back, will also decrease the chance of getting a UTI. 
When engaging in sexual intercourse, it’s important to urinate before and after. Avoiding spermicide and wearing a condom during sexual intercourse will also prevent a UTI from developing.
How do I prevent UTIs from reoccurring?
If you’re prone to UTIs, you can start taking an over-the-counter supplement like cranberry extract or D-mannose. Following all prevention methods above will also decrease your chance of contracting another UTI. If natural therapies don’t work, prescription medication may be needed. 
Fara Bellows is an urologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.