The Super-Simple Way to Prevent Recurring UTIs (It’s Not Cranberry Juice)

Updated: Aug. 08, 2018

If you have more that two to three infections a year, take heart: The solution to battling frequent UTIs be as close as the kitchen sink.

UTIEmily frost/Shutterstock

Urinary tract infections are truly annoying—a good reason to keep easy natural remedies for banishing UTIs on hand. According to the Cleveland Clinic, UTIs are the most common bacterial infection in humans; most women—and many men—will get at least one at some point. In fact, the Clinic reports that more than 8.6 million doctor visits are made each year for the treatment of UTIs. Now, according to new research, there’s an even easier way to prevent UTIs—and it begins by watching what you drink. In the study from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, women who upped their water intake by three pints a day were much less likely to experience the misery of UTIs. Not sure if you have one? Watch for these seven signs of UTIs.

“While doctors have long assumed this is the case and often recommended that women at risk for UTIs increase their fluid intake, it’s never really undergone a prospective trial before,” Thomas M. Hooton, MD, lead author of the study and clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Miami School of Medicine told Science Daily.

For the study, researchers separated 140 health premenopausal women into two groups: All the women had experienced at least three UTIs in the last year, and they typically drank less water than they should, so the researchers asked half of them to begin drinking an extra 1.5 liters of water a day—the equivalent of about three 16-ounce glasses a day; the rest continued their usual low-hydration routine. A year later, when the researchers followed up, they discovered that the water drinkers had cut their rate of UTIs nearly in half—down to 1.6 episodes, compared to 3.5 for the low-hydration group.

“It’s good to know the recommendation is valid, and that drinking water is an easy and safe way to prevent an uncomfortable and annoying infection,” says Dr. Hooten. There’s a reason women are more likely to get UTIs than men, and it’s due to a shorter urethra that makes it easier for bacteria to travel to the bladder. The study authors say that by drinking more water, the increase in urine output flushes bacteria from the bladder and urethra more frequently. Here are some tricks to drinking more water every day.

“If a woman has recurrent UTIs and is looking for a way to reduce her risk, the evidence suggests that if she increases the amount of water she drinks and stays with it, she’ll likely benefit,” Dr. Hooton said.