Urinary Tract Infection Prevention/Treatment

Yes, yes, none of you are doctors. Me neither, so we’re in the same boat. I searched the forums, but it seems most people tend to ask about their pets’ UTIs, and not their own. I’ve had UTIs in the past (one three years ago, one last year), both corresponding to times of rampant sexual activity.

Well, there’s a new guy in my life, but I wouldn’t call it rampant. Anyway, a few weeks ago I felt the familiar symptoms (burning, discomfort, pressure like I needed to pee when I didn’t, sharp pain during sex because I’m an idiot and thought I’d ignore it). So I downed two bottles of pure cranberry juice (not fun, believe me) and a few dozen glasses of water, and sat in the bath (not recommended health-wise, but it lessens the discomfort for whatever reason). When the symptoms hadn’t gone away after a few days I took some Amoxicillin left over from a previous prescription, and within two or three days it’d cleared up.

Today I was minding my own business, going about my day, and became aware of a very slight discomfort, building pressure, etc. I went to the bathroom, drank cranberry juice, sat in the bath…then decided to go with what works and took a pill. Whoosh, symptoms vanish.

I’m obviously trying to avoid a doctor’s visit, since I know what this is and how to treat it, and so I may not have taken a long enough dose a few weeks ago. Does anyone have experience with an infection flaring up again after weeks without symptoms? If this is a new infection, what the heck am I doing different? My personal hygiene and diet haven’t changed, I’m drinking plenty of water, and the sex is much less regular than the times of the previous UTIs.

Regardless, any suggestions beyond what I’m already doing to avoid this situation/fix it if it comes up again? Does anyone have experience with cranberry supplements? I feel those would be easier to take on a regular basis than cranberry juice, but don’t want to bother if they’re useless. Any advice or pointed humor is appreciated, besides “stop getting laid.” That isn’t gonna happen. :wink:

The first thing you need to do is stop taking partial courses of (possibly old and out-of-date) antibiotics - you are not getting rid of all the bacteria (thus leading to rebound infections) and the surviving bacteria are the antibiotic resistant ones, which will give you an untreatable UTI.

Go to a doctor, get a proper and valid treatment (probably with cultures), and take all the pills.

Prevention-wise, all I can tell you is what works for my wife and I, and we have been at the “avoid UTI” game for ~23 years. Be rigorous about personal hygiene, pre and post. Ask your beau to do the same (yes, I regularly wash myself after using the toilet with soap and water, and particularly if sex is a possibility - it is just nicer for everyone concerned). Always urinate after intercourse. Drink sufficient water daily, have a glass of fresh water after sex. If you get waterlogged, stop doing it so much :wink:


Good advice above, additionally, amoxicillin is not the best choice for common UTI pathogens.


Doctors often seem to prescribe antibiotics of the fluoroquinolone class for UTI’s. Three common ones are Cipro (Ciprofloxacin), Floxin (Ofloxacin), and Levaquin (Levofloxacin).

These are profoundly dangerous and controversial industrial-strength antibiotics that should perhaps only be used as a last resort (like, if you’re at death’s door), NEVER as a first resort as is commonly done. They can have disastrously nasty adverse effects, possibly irreversible, and possibly after just the FIRST dose. This commonly includes long-term damage to your tendons, and may also include a variety of grotesque nerve damage effects, sometimes even including severe and irreversible brain damage

Stephen Fried, investigative journalist, wrote a book on the subject. His wife got such a prescription for a UTI, and suffered permanent and serious brain damage after the first dose. His book has its own web site, and the first chapter is posted there. Bitter Pills (Chapter One).

What everyone else said about the antibiotics and, in addition, take cranberry pills every day. Or drink cranberry juice (not cocktails)! Personally, I don’t like cranberry juice, so I take the pills. You can find the pills at any drugstore for cheap.

Anyway, I had many-a-uti for a period there, but they have more or less stopped since I’ve started the cranberry.

Too-right you are not a doctor…would you care to support your argument with some actual cites/data that back up your stance?

:dubious: I’ve only ever taken drugs like sulfa drugs and similar for UTIs, never these. And off the top of my head I’ve not heard of Cipro being used for such things. That book is from 1998, which is a long time ago in terms of prescribing trends; I note that Cipro is currently listed as not recommended as first-line use for this indication.

In the meantime, for the love of all that’s good, get to a doctor. Partial courses of antibiotics are far more likely to do harm to you than any given antibiotic a doctor would prescribe, including Cipro, and an improperly-treated UTI can spread to the kidneys. I may be recalling this incorrectly, but I’m not sure you can “feel” when an infection has spread into the kidneys.

Also, you really have to get serious about proper preventative action. I don’t care how it breaks the mood or just this once can’t hurt or the guy’s so hot and the relationship’s new or whatever. Drink fluids before and after, pee before and after, every time.

I usually see Bactrim prescribed. Of course, it doesn’t seem to do much more than guarantee repeat doctor’s visits, but still, it’s not Cipro.

Agree with the above. Plus, just in case you need a refresher:

Wipe from front to back. That usually means reaching up under your hip from behind, for most people. It’s awkward, but it means less chance of spreading poop particles to the peehole. Only wipe once with each wad of paper - don’t wipe and fold and wipe again. You know what I’m talking about.

Don’t wear skinny jeans or other crotch-hugging clothes. Your hoo-ha needs to breathe, figuratively speaking. A chaffed, moist environment encourages bacteria growth and yeast growth, and often a yeast infection invites a UTI.

Pee immediately after sex, and wipe (front to back), using a moist cloth or wipe. If you use a moist cloth, throw it in the laundry after one use - don’t keep it in the bathroom to use again later, even if you rinse it out.

I don’t think there’s good evidence either way for baths or sitz baths. Some people swear by them, saying they encourage muscle relaxation which helps relieve pain, and others are sure they’re encouraging bacteria to swim into the urethra. I can’t find any studies which show a significant correlation between bath taking and increased UTI’s or greater duration of UTI, but neither can I find any studies which show a significantly decreased duration of UTI with baths. Both sides generally agree that if you do baths/sitz baths, you should not use any bubble baths or scents, as they tend to be irritating to the skin. I’d make an exception for certain herbs or essential oils.

There is some preliminary/theoretical information that blueberries may be as helpful as cranberries in preventing recurrent UTI’s. Blueberries, like cranberries, have proanthocyanidins, chemical compounds which make the cells lining your bladder “slippery” to bacteria, so they can’t infect as easily. I don’t know of any good studies done on blueberries (there are some flawed ones), but since they are tasty and generally good for you, they probably couldn’t hurt.

Finally, and I know you don’t want to hear this, but if you keep having UTI’s even after taking the right kind of antibiotics in the right way…it’s time for an STI screen. Last thing you want is an undiagnosed case of the clap that you’re mistaking for (or that is causing) a recurrent UTI.

Type of sex matters too. If you go between anal to vaginal, you will greatly increase the bacteria exposed to your urethra. Additionally, the personal care of your partner (and you) matters. If he doesnt shower much, wears the same shorts for days etc, he increases your chance of UTI.

The juice you drink is a natural remedy. Not only the high acids, but the antioxidants improve your immune system.

There are cleansing wipes on the market. After a sexual event, you might want to excuse yourself for a moment before the cuddle, and cleanse to reduce your chances of UTI.

And one more thing… call me?

Despite the OP’s disclaimers, I am a doctor.

My two cents: Go see your doctor. A decent exam is necessary to ensure no anatomic abnormalities are contributing to the situation, a good urinalysis to establish what’s really going on in your urinary tract, a culture to find out just what’s growing in there and what kills/doesn’t kill it, then good recommendations based on your specific needs as to how to clear up the problem and keep it cleared up.

You’re not going to get any of that accomplished by reading message boards.

ETA: and juices are not automatically natural remedies. Cranberry and a few other juices do contain a chemical that makes it hard for some bacteria to adhere to the bladder wall, but this is not a reliable way to treat/prophylax for most infections. Nor are acidifying juices/pills effective for many, many circumstances.

I hate going to the doctor, too. I’m generally pretty reluctant to go. But, ever since I got a kidney infection that developed from a UTI, I go if I think I have a UTI. The kidney infection sucked. You don’t want that, and you could get it from not going to the doctor for a UTI.

Discalimer: I am not a doctor, just the spouse of someone who has suffered repeated UTI infections for over 50 years, which sucks, but perhaps my two cents might be useful.


Seriously, this is NOT the way to deal with these. You need to go to a doctor (as one of our own doctors has suggested). Let me point out what’s wrong with your current approach:

  1. “Pure cranberry juice” is, at best, preventive and even that isn’t definitely proven. It doesn’t do jack once you actually have an infection, other than providing fluids which are always a good idea.

  2. More water, while, as noted, beneficial from a “providing fluids” viewpoint, isn’t going to do jack for the microbes inhabiting your bladder.

  3. Amoxicillan “left over” from a previous prescription may or may not still be effective (how old was it?) and taking it for 2-3 days may help your symptoms but it is ALSO a very effective way to breed antibiotic resistant bugs. Thank you (not) for contributing to a global medical problem, that of antibiotic resistant bacteria which are becoming more and more common and rendering more and more antibiotics useless.

You need to see at least a general practitioner and possibly even a urologist at this point. If you continue to abuse antibiotics either you’ll wind up with a resistant strain in residence or, possibly, you’ll have a FUNGAL urinary tract infection which my spouse has had the displeasure of experiencing. Trust me, you do NOT want to be sitting in a teaching hospital when the urology resident yells out “Hey, come look at this! I’ve never seen THIS before!” while examining a urine sample. If you think regular old bacterial UTI’s are a bitch just keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll get to experience the fungal variety.

In addition to that possibility, repeated UTI’s can cause scarring and strictures, which my require a “procedure” to essentially ream out the plumbing. As my spouse has an SCI and doesn’t have full feeling that wasn’t too bad - for him. For you, my dear, it would be an exceedingly uncomfortable experience if you have less tubing to ream out than a man does.

UTI’s improperly treated can also climb up the plumbing to reach your kidneys. You think UTI’s suck? Try a kidney infection. That’s a stay in the hospital, girlfriend, and all the while you’ll be hoping it clears up and doesn’t do too much damage or leave you on dialysis or a transplant list.

Granted, you haven’t experienced any of the bad scenarios - yet. But the older you get, and the more infections you get, the odds become greater of you “enjoying” one.

Bottom line: go to a doctor and get yourself PROPERLY diagnosed and treated!

No, you DON’T know how to treat this, it’s very obvious you don’t. So go see a real doctor.

Yes. And worse things. For my spouse, who actually does go to a doctor and follow proper treatment instructions, it was usually either a case of resistant bacteria or that fungal fun episode I mentioned.

The problem may not be what you are DOING, it’s what you DID - that is, you didn’t take the antibiotics long enough which, while it makes symptoms abate, doesn’t kill off all the bacteria, which go back to multiplying and result in a recurrence of symptoms in a brief time span.

And this is why you need to go to a doctor - you don’t really understand what’s going on and you’re not treating the infection properly.


The problem isn’t you having sex, it’s you failing to be properly diagnosed and treated.

Anecdotally, my spouse has been prescribed Cipro and Levaquin for his UTI’s, but that was only after testing showed he had resistant bacteria camping out in his bladder. In other words, even for someone with spinal cord damage and a five decade history of UTI’s they aren’t “first line” and used only after appropriate testing and evaluation.

My sister works for a group of three urologists. They say the cranberry juice thing is pure BS. According to them, the studies showing some benefit to urinary problems were financed by cranberry growers associations looking for a way to smooth out the sales spike around Thanksgiving and give them a more year-round income.

These urologists never recommend cranberry juice. They say it doesn’t help, but it doesn’t hurt either; it’s just juice.

Go to the doctor. It sucks having to pee into a cup, but it’s nice to know you’ll only have to worry about it one more time.

Since you don’t already seem to know this, it is really important to take an entire course of antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor. They only reason you had some leftovers was because you stopped taking them early in the past… this is a Really Bad Thing. You can’t stop taking medication when the symptoms go away, because until you finish ALL the pills, ALL the bacteria isn’t gone yet. And of course it goes without saying that taking a few pills leftover from before is only alleviating your symptoms at present. It’s not battling the infection. In fact, there’s a real risk that you’re teaching your tract’s bacteria to be ever more resistant to antibiotics! So, stop that. :slight_smile:

The truth behind a lot of women who claim to get recurrent UTIs is that it’s the SAME UTI every time! Present company included, until I completed a full course of antibiotics and became hypervigilant about my sex-hygiene. The same infection can easily ebb and flow in severity for months or even years! This problem will literally never go away if you don’t treat it properly in the first place.

So how about some action steps?

  1. Get a urinalysis
  2. Take ALL of the pills! :cool:
  3. Stop taking baths (showers only! baths lead to cross-contamination, I don’t care how much better they make you feel. stop that :))
  4. Make sure you always wipe front-to-back only
  5. Practice immaculate sex hygiene. Clean yourself and have your boyfriend clean himself thoroughly, before and immediately following sex.
  6. Don’t use the same condom between different orifices. Whether it’s your mouth or… others.

It’s not as sexy to be so clean and clinical about sex, but it’s more sexy than pain, kidney infections (ask me how I know!) and being out of commission altogether when your infection gets *really *bad.

I would love to see a cite for this, if possible - not in an annoying “I don’t believe you and will passive-aggressively call you on BS by asking for proof” but in a “Really? That is contrary to lots of other information I have heard, and I find this discrepancy interesting and would like to know more” kind of way.

Also, as someone who does not like cranberries, I was excited to learn that blueberries have similar anti-UTI properties (however effective said properties might actually be).


No, I don’t have any cite other than the word of the three urologists. Perhaps people who read this thread and have some contact with their own urologist in the future will ask and report back so we can see if this is the general consensus.

I suggest asking urologists since it seems quite possible other medical practitioners might be just about as susceptible to the popular press advertising campaign as the rest of us.

It also wouldn’t surprise me if the news about blueberries could be traced back to a trade organization in the blueberry business.

Just did a quick search and found lots of conflicting opinions on cranberry and UTI; a quick scan seems to lean towards “the stuff might help prevent infections but is not recommended by medical organizations as a cure for such infections.”

One such example:
Why Cranberry Juice Works for UTI Prevention

It also seems a study has found that concord grape juice has benefits similar to those shown for cranberry juice. The study was funded by Welch’s.

Reading the actual studies is beyond me. I’ll stick to what my doctors say.

From a more credible source

The science still does not support a significant effect from cranberry or other juice. That doesn’t keep a lot of health practitioners from jumping on anecdotal reports or preliminary hypotheses or lousy study results.

I get asymptomatic bladder infections and only find out either of I get a random piss test for a UTI or I start running a fever, my back feels like someone wound up and whacked me with a baseball bat [and I lived with an abuser, so I know what a good solid kidney punch feels like as a non-boxer:(] and I start looking like a zombie. I once showed up at the base ER looking like “a heroin addict in withdrawl” according to intake. Not fun.

Goody, another excuse to eat blueberries [as if anybody in this household needs an excuse] :stuck_out_tongue: we like to buy the pure cranberry juice from knudsens and mix with water and splenda - the ocean spray type mixed with juice has way too much in the way of carbs for me to drink in the quantities I like.

And I have no idea why I started getting UTIs with my hubby out to sea, nor why they pretty much stopped when he got out of the navy - my hygenic practices didn’t change. I have always been in the habit of white unscented/undyed TP, and baby wipes in the bathroom every time [I adore the small purse packs and individual packs of wet-wipes, especially the nonbaby scent ones.] I am just glad that I stopped getting them.

Oh, you’ll know. It is incredibly painful and feels like someone kicked you there.

Also, I will add to the chorus that says get thee to a doctor. If you don’t have insurance or can’t afford to go, the only thing you can do is try to keep flushing it out, refraining from sexual activity and being over-hygenic. However, I have had a UTI that got to the point that I could not pee at all and had to go to the hospital. You don’t want to get to that point.

Not to add to perfectparanoia’s paranoia, but the first patient I ever had die on me came in to the hospital because of a UTI. Not even a kidney infection, “just” a UTI. She was in her early 60s and in otherwise pretty good health. She just stopped breathing when my fellow nursing student and I were transferring her from a chair to her bed.

Respect the UTI.