The Top 10 Ways to Prevent Summer UTIs

August 04,2021 |
Two friends sitting on the beach

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most commonly occurring outpatient infections in the United States. If you’ve experienced one, you understand the discomfort that follows. UTIs are not only irritating, but they can also cause severe disruptions to your daily life. Unfortunately, while the summer months are the best months to spend with loved ones and take advantage of long, warm days, they’re also the time of the year when your risk for developing a urinary tract infection is at its highest. To help you stay healthy and get the most out of the season, here are the top 10 ways to prevent summer UTIs.

Why Are UTIs More Prevalent in the Summer?

Summer months are not only hot, but in many areas of the U.S., they’re also humid. The higher the humidity is, the more you’re at risk for developing a urinary tract infection. This is because humidity provides the ideal environment for bacteria to grow. Since UTIs are caused by bacteria in the urethra and other areas of the urinary tract, this creates a dangerous combination. When warm, humid environments are coupled with dehydrated bodies and wet clothing, the risk increases even more. However, you don’t have to endure the pain of a UTI—there are plenty of things you can do to decrease your risk and prevent UTIs from happening.

10 Ways to Prevent Summer UTIs

Once you understand why UTIs occur more often in the summer months, the preventative measures make sense. Try to be proactive with your urinary health to avoid having to deal with uncomfortable UTIs. You can start by following these 10 preventative actions.

  1. Stay Hydrated

    One of the best ways to prevent summer UTIs is to make sure that you’re staying hydrated throughout the day—especially if you’re spending time outdoors. The higher temperatures cause our bodies to sweat more profusely, which means that we lose more of the water we consume. Not surprisingly, dehydration is more common during warmer months as many people don’t realize the amount of water they lose through sweat.

    To prevent urinary tract infections, staying hydrated is essential. In doing so, you’ll help dilute your urine and increase the frequency in which you use the bathroom. The more you urinate throughout the day and the more diluted your urine is, the lower the chances that bacteria can grow in your urethra. This is because urinating flushes out any small traces of potentially harmful bacteria, thus reducing your chance of infection.

    You can tell if you’re dehydrated by keeping an eye on the color of your urine. A well hydrated person will have light yellow, almost clear urine. If you notice that it’s darker, you need to drink more water. Try to aim for at least two and a half liters a day during the summer, more if you’re exercising or spending a lot of time outside. If you have any questions about your urine output, or notice any alarming signs or colors, contact your urologist.


  2. Keep Cool

    Since increased temperatures are directly related to bacterial growth, try to keep cool throughout the day. Stay in the shade and make sure that you don’t overheat when you’re doing outdoor activities. It’s been found that when outdoor temperatures reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the incidence of urinary tract infections increases by 15%. While you can still enjoy outdoor activities with your friends and loved ones, avoid overexerting yourself in high temperatures.


  3. Dry Off After Activities

    Bacteria also thrives in moist environments. Since many people head to the pool, beach, or lake during the summer to keep cool and enjoy a day on the water, UTIs inevitably increase. This is especially true if you’re wearing a swimsuit all day. To help reduce your chances of developing a UTI, dry off after activities. It’s also helpful to pack an extra change of clothes so that you can change out of your wet swimsuit when you’re done in the water. The same applies to those who are exercising outdoors. After you’re finished, head inside, shower, and put on a dry change of clothes.


  4. Don’t Hold Your Bladder

    When you feel the urge to use the bathroom, it’s important that you empty your bladder. When you don’t empty your bladder on a regular basis, bacteria have a higher chance of replicating and causing an infection. The bacteria can build in your bladder and increase your risk for UTIs or bladder infections, so using the bathroom regularly is an essential preventative measure. If you don’t have immediate access to a restroom, try to find one as soon as possible to avoid holding your bladder for too long.


  5. Practice Good Hygiene

    Prioritizing personal hygiene is another great preventative measure. This is especially true for women when it comes to using the bathroom—always wipe from front to back. Doing so helps to prevent bacterial transfer from the anus to the urethra. Since women also have anatomically shorter urethras than men, they’re more susceptible to UTIs year-round. You can minimize your risk of a summer UTI by always wiping from front to back, showering regularly, and seeking medical attention at the first sign of infection.  


  6. Urinate Before and After Sex

    Due to the nature of sexual intercourse, bacteria will spread and can easily end up in the urethra. While this is difficult to avoid, you can prevent any further problems by urinating both before and after sex. There is a direct link to UTIs and sex, so even if you don’t think you need to go, try. This will eliminate any bacteria that may have entered your urethra from your partner’s genitals. When sex is combined with hot, humid weather, the risk increases. If you have questions about sex and UTIs, contact your doctor for more information. For those that get recurring UTIs, your doctor may recommend alternative prevention methods.


  7. Reevaluate Your Birth Control Methods

    Women using certain types of contraceptives can be more susceptible to developing urinary tract infections. This is especially true in regard to diaphragms, spermicide-treated products, and unlubricated condoms. These types of birth control methods tend to cause more irritation, which can facilitate bacteria growth. You should also exercise caution if you are using douches, powders, or deodorant sprays, as these can also increase the prevalence of UTIs in women. If you believe that your birth control is causing recurring UTIs, talk to your doctor about alternative contraceptives.


  8. Avoid Excessively Tight Clothes

    Tight clothing and swimwear can retain moisture and heat in the genital area, which increases the rate of bacteria growth. Try to avoid excessively tight clothing during summer months, especially if you’re going to be doing something outside. Instead, wear light, breathable clothing that fits comfortably around your pelvic region.


  9. See Your Urologist Regularly

    While most instances of urinary tract infections are noticeable, mild infections can persist without disrupting symptoms. This is why it’s important to see your urologist and your doctor regularly. Even if you don’t have the telltale signs of an infection, if you notice any changes in bathroom habits or even slight discomfort, it’s worth scheduling a visit.


  10. Understand the Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection

While this is not a way to prevent summer UTIs, it is a good way to prevent further complications from occurring. Make sure that you understand all of the symptoms of a urinary tract infection so that you can seek out medical assistance when needed. Some common signs and symptoms of a UTI include:

  • Burning, pain, or itching during or in-between urination
  • Dysuria
  • Urinary urgency
  • Increased frequency of urination, even if your bladder is empty
  • Abdominal pressure
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Pelvic, abdominal, or back pain
  • Unexplained cramps
  • Unpleasant urine odor
  • Cloudy-looking urine

Call your doctor if you notice any of these, or any other changes in your bathroom habits.

The Importance of Seeking Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections

If you notice any signs or symptoms of a urinary tract infection, the best thing to do is to seek medical attention immediately. Contrary to popular belief, consuming large amounts of cranberries and trying to flush your system is not going to get rid of an infection. Once the infection is present, you will need to take antibiotics to kill all of the harmful bacteria and avoid further complications like bladder or kidney infections. Luckily, testing and diagnosing a UTI is easy and only takes a few minutes. Schedule an appointment with your urologist or general practitioner at the first sign of infection to receive the proper treatment. The sooner you address any symptoms, the sooner you’ll be able to continue enjoying your summer.

If you find that you continue to suffer from recurrent UTIs, regardless of preventative measures, talk to your doctor about alternative options. If you need any educational support on urologic health, Byram Healthcare is here to help.