The Urinary Tract Health System
Proper functioning of the urinary tract health system is a natural part of your day. It is something that you probably don’t think about until you have a problem.
The urinary tract makes and stores urine. There are three main parts of the urinary tract – the urethra (which directs the urine from the bladder out of the body, the bladder (which collects and holds urine until you are ready to urinate), and the kidneys (which clear wastes from the body).
Bacteria (germs that get into your urinary tract) can cause a urinary tract infection or UTI. Most of the germs come from the anal area. They can enter through the urethra, go into the bladder, and even go up into the kidneys and cause infection.
A UTI can involve any of the parts of your urinary tract — the kidneys, the bladder, and the urethra.
There are steps you can take to try to prevent a UTI. Following these steps can decrease your chances of getting a UTI. These steps may not always be enough, so if you have symptoms of a UTI such as pain, bleeding, or frequent urination, call your doctor.
Steps you can take:
- Urinate when you need to. Don’t hold it. Holding urine allows bacteria to grow and cause problems.
- Urinate before and after sex. If you use a diaphragm for contraception make sure to empty your bladder after sex and after removal of the diaphragm, too.
- Drink water every day. Drinking six to eight glasses of water each day can help keep your bladder healthy. You can also drink cranberry juice, which may fight infection. However, don’t drink cranberry juice if you’re taking the blood-thinning medication warfarin. Possible interactions between cranberry juice and warfarin may lead to bleeding.
- Clean your anus and the outer lips of your vagina each day. The anus is the place where a bowel movement leaves your body, located between the buttocks. Make sure to wash from front to back and rinse well with water.
- Wipe from front to back. Doing so after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
- Don’t use douches or feminine hygiene sprays. These can contain perfumes and chemicals that irritate the area and may increase the chance of infection.
- If you get a lot of UTIs and use spermicides or creams that kill sperm, talk to your doctor about using other forms of birth control.
- Wear underwear with a cotton crotch. Keep the area dry as much as possible.
- Take showers instead of tub baths. Bubble bath detergents can irritate the urinary tract and increase the chance of infection.
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