From Our Physical Therapists: 7 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of a UTI

Here are tips to reduce your risk of getting a UTI from our pelvic floor physical therapist, Karen Bumpus.

1.)   Avoid vaginal washes and douches. Vaginas are self-cleaning and have their own “ecosystem” in terms of pH and flora. Most of these agents contain chemicals in that can offset this special balance leaving you more at risk of infection.

2.)   Use water and if necessary MILD, FRAGRANCE-FREE soap when washing your vulva. First, quick anatomy lesson: despite the fact that people so often refer to the  female genitalia collectively as “the vagina”, the vagina is really just the internal portion. The vulva refers to everything external (labia minora, labia majora etc). This part of your body is still quite delicate.  Best practice is to GENTLY wash this area using your hand or a very GENTLE cloth and warm water, making sure to separate the labia majora and washing the labia minora and clitoral hood as well.

a.)   If you insist on using soap, use the GENTLEST soap you can find, free of dyes, perfumes and fragrances.

b.)   Did I mention that you should be gentle?

3.)    Wipe front to back. This one is pretty popular, you’ve probably heard it 1000x before, but I felt the list wouldn’t be complete without it. Reason: Wiping from back to front can introduce E. coli and other bacteria from fecal matter into your vagina/ urinary tract. No bueno.

4.)   Choose underwear wisely. Thongs are a popular way to wear your favorite yoga pants without worrying about panty-lines, but they can leave you at greater risk of infection. Similar to what I stated above, thongs have pretty much direct contact with your anus as well as with your vulva, increasing the likelihood of bacteria travelling from one to the other. Fabric matters too. Vaginas naturally create moisture, and bacteria tends to thrive in a moist environment. For this reason, it is better to opt for a breathable fabric like cotton as opposed to some of the synthetic blends that are available.

5.)   Easy on the yoga pants. Don’t hate me for this one. Yoga pants are arguably one of the most wonderful things to come out of the turn of the 21st century, but they are not always made from the most breathable fabrics. So, if you are wearing them for a particularly difficult workout (such as Laura’s Da Vinci Bodyboard Class...after which you are most likely soaked in sweat and maybe some tears) be sure to change soon afterward. If you are using them as casual wear, remember that because yoga pants tend to not breathe well, they create a bacteria-friendly environment so be sure to wash between each use - especially if you prefer to wear them “commando”.

6.)   Urinate after intercourse. This is another popular tip and for good reason. Urinating afterward can help flush out bacteria that may have been introduced into the urinary tract during intercourse.

7.)   Stay hydrated. Adequate water intake is good for numerous reasons. One of them is for urinary tract and bladder health. By maintaining a good level of hydration, you are more likely to urinate at normal frequency (between 2-5 hours on average), helping to flush your urinary tract.

As always, if you have any questions on the material above or anything else pelvic floor related, do not hesitate to email me at karen@allwellnessvt.com.