Although there is no evidence that good hygiene makes a real difference in preventing UTIs, it is always a wise practice. The following are some hygiene tips for women:
- Clean the genital and urinary areas from front to back with soap and water after each bowel movement.
- Keep the genital and anal areas clean before and after sex. Urinate before and after intercourse to empty the bladder and cleanse the urethra of bacteria.
- Avoid tight-fitting pants.
- Wear cotton-crotch underwear and panty hose, changing both at least once a day. (Mild detergents are best for washing underwear.)
- Take showers rather than baths.
- Avoid bath oils, feminine hygiene sprays, douches, and powders. As a general rule, do not use any product containing perfumes or other possible allergens near the genital area. Douching is never recommended as it may irritate the vagina and urethra and increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
- Choose sanitary napkins instead of tampons (which some doctors believe encourage infection). Napkins and tampons, in any case, should be changed after each urination.
- Drink plenty of fluids and urinate frequently.
The following recommendations may reduce the risks from sexual activity:
Review Date: 06/17/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.