Cranberry juice or tablets containing proanthocyanidin are often recommended to help reduce the risk of recurrent bladder infections for some women. However, recent studies suggest that it's less effective than previously thought. Some smaller studies demonstrated a small benefit, but larger studies found no significant benefit.
As a home remedy, avoid cranberry juice if you're taking the blood-thinning medication warfarin (Coumadin). Possible interactions between cranberry juice and warfarin can lead to bleeding.
Although these preventive self-care measures aren't well-studied, doctors sometimes recommend the following for repeated bladder infections:
March 18, 2015
- Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Drinking lots of fluids is especially important if you're getting chemotherapy or radiation therapy, particularly on treatment days.
- Urinate frequently. If you feel the urge to urinate, don't delay using the toilet.
- Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement. This prevents bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
- Take showers rather than tub baths. If you're susceptible to infections, showering rather than bathing may help prevent them.
- Gently wash the skin around the vagina and anus. Do this daily, but don't use harsh soaps or wash too vigorously. The delicate skin around these areas can become irritated.
- Empty your bladder as soon as possible after intercourse. Drink a full glass of water to help flush bacteria.
- Avoid using deodorant sprays or feminine products in the genital area. These products can irritate the urethra and bladder.
- Bope ET, et al. Bacterial infections of the urinary tract in women. In: Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 11, 2015.
- Mandell GL, et al. Urinary tract infections. In: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 13, 2015.
- Hooton TM. Uncomplicated urinary tract infection. New England Journal of Medicine. 2012;366:1028.
- Stein R, et al. Urinary tract infections in children: EAU/ESPU guidelines. European Urology. In press. Accessed Jan. 13, 2015.
- Interstitial cystitis. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary_disorders/voiding_disorders/interstitial_cystitis.html. Accessed Jan. 13, 2015.
- A guide to chemotherapy. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/chemotherapy/understandingchemotherapyaguideforpatientsandfamilies/understanding-chemotherapy-more-side-effects-urine-bladder-kidney-problem. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.
- Understanding radiation therapy: A guide for patients and families. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/radiation/understandingradiationtherapyaguideforpatientsandfamilies/understanding-radiation-therapy-radiation-to-pelvis. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.
- Guidelines on urological infections. European Association of Urology. http://www.uroweb.org/guidelines/online-guidelines/. Accessed Jan. 13, 2015.
- Urinary tract infections in adults. National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/utiadult/. Accessed Jan. 13, 2015.
- Cranberry. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/cranberry. Accessed Jan. 13, 2015.
- Jepson RG. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001321.pub5/abstract. Accessed Jan. 13, 2015.
- Anderson CA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 16, 2015.
- Castle EP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona. Jan. 23, 2015.
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