6 Ways to Prevent a UTI During the Summer
Summer means warmer weather, longer days, and road trips with friends and family. But as the temperature and humidity rise, so does your risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Urinary tract infections are one of the most common infections among individuals, especially women. Approximately 60 percent of women and 12 percent of men will experience at least one urinary tract infection during their lifetime — and both genders are more susceptible in the summertime.
Keep reading to learn more about why this seasonality occurs, as well as steps you can take to prevent a urinary tract infection this summer.
Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and travel up to your bladder. UTIs may be extremely common, but there’s no denying the symptoms can be uncomfortable and painful. Before we discuss ways to prevent a urinary tract infection during the summer, it is important to know the signs you should look out for.
Common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
- Frequent urination
- A burning sensation when urinating
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- Cloudy, bloody, or strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain or pressure in your lower abdomen
- Fever or chills
Learn More: 13 Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection
Why are UTIs More Common in the Summer?
Although the research behind why UTIs are more common in the summer has been somewhat inconclusive, there are many theories as to why this seasonality may occur. Below are the top three reasons why.
Dehydration is more common during the summer, especially for those who spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying the warm weather. Although it’s important to stay hydrated year-round, this is particularly important for preventing a urinary tract infection. When you are dehydrated, your body isn’t able to properly flush out harmful bacteria that cause UTIs. As a result, your chances of developing a UTI are much higher.
2. Warmer temperatures
Researchers have seen a connection between warmer temperatures and urinary tract infections. A recent study found that when outdoor temperatures reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit, there was a 15% increase in UTI cases. Because bacteria are more likely to grow in warm and humid environments, UTIs are more common this time of year.
When you think of summer, there’s a good chance that water activities come to mind. Whether you’re spending time in a pool, at the lake, or on the beach, these activities are one of the most common risk factors for developing a UTI in the summer. Moist bathing suits or undergarments provide a suitable breeding environment for bacteria, which can quickly lead to a urinary tract infection.
6 Ways to Prevent a Urinary Tract Infection
Now that you know what causes a UTI, it’s time to learn how to prevent one from occurring in the first place. These tips can help lower your chances of developing a UTI so you can spend more time enjoying yourself this summer.
1. Stay hydrated
An easy and effective way to prevent a UTI this summer is to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. Drinking enough water dilutes your urine and ensures you are urinating frequently, which allows bacteria to be properly flushed out of your urinary tract. On average, a person should drink approximately two liters of water every day. In the summer, this recommendation increases to two and a half liters, so drink up!
2. Don’t hold your bladder
If you don’t empty your bladder regularly, bacteria are more likely to sit and multiply in the bladder. This exposes your bladder to bacteria and increases your chances of developing a urinary tract infection. So, when you need to use the bathroom — go! It is never a good idea to hold your bladder for long periods of time.
3. Wipe from front to back
You’ve probably heard this advice since the day you were potty trained — and for good reason! The key to preventing a urinary tract infection is limiting bacteria’s access to the urethra. Because women have a shorter urethra, it’s much easier for bacteria to enter their bladder. In addition to being more hygienic overall, wiping from front to back helps prevent bacteria in the anal area from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
4. Avoid tight undergarments and swimwear
As the temperature rises, sweating and water-related activities are inevitable. Warm, moist undergarments and swimwear can encourage bacteria growth, which may cause an infection. To prevent a UTI, we recommend changing out of your wet bathing suit as soon as possible. The same is true for moist clothing, so consider changing into clean undergarments after sweating, too.
5. Urinate immediately after intercourse
During sexual intercourse, it’s inevitable that your urethra will be exposed to bacteria from your partner’s genital area. Because of this, sexual intercourse is a common cause of urinary tract infections. And once you factor in the heat and humidity associated with summertime, your chances of developing a UTI after intercourse are even higher. It is crucial to urinate as soon as possible, so your body can flush out harmful bacteria that may have entered the urinary tract during intercourse.
6. Change your birth control method or feminine products
Not all birth control methods are created equally! Certain methods such as diaphragms, spermicide-treated condoms, and unlubricated condoms can all irritate the urinary tract and lead to bacteria growth. Various feminine products such as douches, powders, and deodorant sprays can also be potentially irritating to the urinary tract. Your healthcare professional will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding which birth control method or feminine products are right for you.
Maintaining Optimal Urology Health with a Urologist
Urinary tract infections can be painful, annoying, and uncomfortable — but don’t worry! Following these tips can help you prevent a urinary tract infection this summer. As always, if you are experiencing any symptoms of a UTI, contact your nearest USOC location to schedule an appointment with one of our urology specialists.
Although existing UTIs need to be treated with antibiotics, avoiding future infections is possible with simple diet and lifestyle changes. Download our Nutrition and Lifestyle Guide for even more tips and tricks to help prevent future UTIs and achieve optimal urology health. Click the button below to access your free copy!