Urinary tract infections are serious torture. All you can think about it is how uncomfortable you feel basically all. the. time. And you need to stay near a bathroom because of that constant need-to-go feeling. So how do you prevent a UTI? According to a new study published in JAMA, you should drink more water to prevent UTIs, CNN reports. The researchers found that people with vaginas who drank an additional six cups of water than they usually do, says CNN, were 50 percent less likely to get UTIs than those who didn’t increase their water intake. That’s about four 12-ounce bottles of water, CNN reports.
According to LiveScience, the researchers said up to 60 percent of people with vaginas will develop a urinary tract infection in their lifetimes, with more than 25 percent getting more than one UTI. That’s because, says LiveScience, the urethra is shorter in people with vaginas, so it’s much easier for bacteria to travel from the rectum and the vagina to the bladder. Once a person with a vagina gets a UTI, a quarter will get another UTI within six months, and up to 75 percent will get yet another within a year, CNN reports.
The study included 140 people with vaginas ages 45 and younger, says LiveScience, who had experienced at least three UTIs in the past year and who usually drank fewer than six 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Half of the participants were instructed to drink an extra six 8-ounce glasses of water a day, and the other half didn’t change their water-drinking habits, LiveScience reports. After one year, says LiveScience, the people with vaginas who drank more water had fewer UTIs than the people who drank less water.
“The data strongly suggest that hydration status is associated with UTI risk,” lead study author Dr. Thomas M. Hooton of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine told Reuters in an email. Dr. Hooton suggested that people who have recurrent UTIs consider increasing their daily fluid intake "to at least two to three liters a day.” (You can do that!)
The researchers think the participants who drank more water had fewer UTIs because they urinated more, which flushed harmful bacteria out of their bladders, CNN reports. This is why, says CNN, common recommendations for UTI prevention are not to delay urination, to urinate immediately after intercourse, and to practice good vaginal hygiene using unperfumed soaps. But a common UTI home remedy that studies have shown to not be effective is cranberry juice, CNN reports.
"The realistic amount of cranberry juice that can be ingested on a regular basis makes it impractical to recommend,” Dr. David Soper of the Medical University of South Carolina told CNN, “and, in addition, well-designed studies don't show a positive preventive effect.”
According to Reuters, drinking more water has been a long-standing piece of advice to ward off UTIs, but now there’s some major research to back it up. Staying hydrated is great for your overall health, so now you have another reason to keep that water bottle handy.