By Board Certified Urologist Dr. Yana Barbalat
It's very common to assume that UTIs are linked to a hygiene issue, consequently UTI sufferers often feel that UTIs are their fault. However, the truth is, for most adults, poor hygiene is likely not the cause of their UTI as there are many other contributing factors that can make a person more susceptible to UTIs. These include genetic predispositions, recent sexual encounters, history of diabetes, incomplete bladder emptying, post menopausal state, and many other causes.
Nevertheless, UTIs are often caused by the transfer of bacteria from the anal area to the urethra and poor hygiene can unfortunately facilitate the movement of bacteria.
So what do doctors tell their recurrent UTI patients about hygiene?
Wiping back to front has been associated with urinary tract infections so I always remind my patients to wipe correctly (front to back). However, a recent survey of Utiva costumers revealed that over 70% of recurrent UTI sufferers have been wiping correctly for their entire adult life. So what else can one do?
For women, it is important to wash the genitals daily with warm water and a mild fragrance free soap. Do not use scrubs as they can cause small cuts of the vaginal skin and urethral opening. Douches should also be avoided as they have been associated with an increased risk of UTIs in many studies. This is because douches alter vaginal PH and predispose women to UTIs.Water based, paraben free, PH balanced wipes are a great choice for women on the move or after sexual activity. Just remember to always wipe front to back!
In men, lack of circumcision has been associated with an increased risk of UTIs. That's because bacteria and dead skin cells can get trapped underneath the foreskin right by the urethra. Uncircumcised men should remember to retract their foreskin and clean the area just as women- with warm water, mild soap, or gentle water based wipes if they are on the move. Make sure the penis is dry before putting the foreskin back to its normal position.