How to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections from Recurring

Prevention of UTI recurrences is difficult, but there are many strategies to choose from, depending on your circumstances. The most obvious one is to increase your fluid intake to at least two liters spread over each day.

You may also find that emptying your bladder immediately after sexual intercourse prevents UTIs. Many women find 'double micturition' is helpful - this involves emptying your bladder, then standing up and walking about for a few moments, and then trying to empty your bladder again.

Other general advice includes wiping your anal area away from your urethra (backwards), after moving your bowels. You should also avoid douching (squirting fluid into your vagina).

If UTIs are frequent, antibiotics can be taken whenever there is a precipitating factor, such as sexual intercourse. Sometimes antibiotics need to be taken daily to prevent very frequent recurrences.

The Urethral Syndrome

This is found mainly in women and is a poorly understood condition. If you suffer from the urethral syndrome, you will have all the symptoms of a UTI but, when your urine is tested in the laboratory, nothing abnormal is found.

The condition may have a variety of causes:

• A true infection may be present but with too few bacteria for the laboratory to confirm an infection.

• The irritation may be confined to your urethra, perhaps as a result of an infection that has not spread as far as your bladder. In this case, the infection often seems to be brought on by rubbing from clothing or by sexual intercourse.

• There may be no infection and the symptoms result entirely from increased sensitivity of the urethra, either from rubbing or from an unknown cause.

Whatever the cause, Urethral syndrome is more common in sexually active women.

You may find that changing your position for sexual intercourse, so that you are on top, or using extra lubricant, such as KY Jelly, is helpful. Other general measures for dealing with recurrent UTIs, such as careful attention to the timing and thoroughness of bladder emptying, can also help.

Chemical Cystitis

Although an inflamed bladder is commonly caused by a UTI, there are other causes of cystitis without infection. The two most common of these are related to cancer therapy.

Chemotherapy drugs for cancer are designed to stop cells dividing. They tend to be very irritant and many of them are passed out in the urine, where they can inflame the bladder to cause so-called 'chemical cystitis'.

The other common cancer treatment is radiotherapy, in which powerful X-rays are directed at the cancer to kill the cells. Any normal cells in the same area can also become damaged, so radiotherapy to the pelvis - for example, to treat cancer of the cervix - can also inflame the bladder wall, causing a very severe form of cystitis.