How to prevent a urinary infection and limit relapses

Specific Health Concern 6 July 2017

About 50% of women suffer from cystitis during their lifetime with 20 to 30% of them experiencing relapses.

It is possible to stop cystitis at the onset of the first symptoms and prevent relapses.

Before focusing on  treatment, women need to be aware of how hygiene and diet affect recovery.

Advice on hygiene and diet:

Keeping hydrated will help your body eliminate bacteria regularly. You should try to take in a minimum of 1.5 litres daily, and it can be in any form:  water, juice, broth, tea etc.

Your diet can have an impact on whether or not you experience relpses. While it has not been scientifically validated, food has the ability to encourage e the development of certain bacteria in the stool that may bring about the contamination of the urinary tracts.

Sugary food and drinks and meat* consumed in a significant quantity may cause this and should be avoided if you suffer from relapses. Following a healthy diet will help your body fight against nutritional deficiencies and imbalances** , allowing you to prevent and limit cystitis.

Including probiotics in your diet may help. With the capacity to destroy resistant bacteria such as Escherichia coli, they are becoming a common non-drug therapy in the fight against recurring bladder and intestinal infections.

If you suffer from bladder infections and are experiencing menopause, there are also a number of other alternative treatments you can use such as topical oestrogen and probiotics. (2) (3)


In addition, these good habits will help prevent infection daily:

  • Avoid very tight underwear underwear or synthetic underwear.
  • Use a gentle form of intimate hygiene so you do not “scrape” the mucous membranes and impair the bacterial flora necessary for their protection.
  • Use small tampons when you have your periods and change them frequently.
  • Pantyliners are inadvisable.
  • Take up regular physical exercise to avoid the risk of  constipation.
  • Urinate as soon as you feel the need to – this will avoid retention that increases the chances of germs multiplying.
  • After each evacuation or urination, women should wipe themselves from the front towards the rear.
  • Before and after each act of sexual intercourse, go to the toilet.


Natural treatments

Cranberry (vaccinium macrocarpon, berries) is the recommended plant for the prevention of relapses of cystitis as it prevents the fixation of bacteria on the wall of the bladder. There are many studies that validate this claim.

Traditionally used by native Americans to prevent urinary tract infections and infections of the digestive tube, as well as treat external wounds, it has a long history of use.

In order to be effective, cranberry extract must provide 36 mg per day of P.A.C (proanthrocyanidins). It also needs to be accompanied by “hydrating” plants which increase the volume of water eliminated from the bladder; it is this action that flushes out bacteria stuck to the bladder wall.

All heather based infusions (calluna vulgaris, heads of flowers), infusions of dandelion (taraxacum den leonis, leaves),  orthosiphon infusions (orthosiphon stamineus, leaves) and  especially pilosella (hieracium pilosella, the whole plant) have an hydrating and anti-infectious action that will be helpful.

Pure cranberry juice may replace cranberry extract in the quantity of 300 to 450 millilitres of daily intake.

If you experience over two relapses a  year, it is recommended that you take a daily dose of cranberry extract eight to ten days per month, accompanied by one or two cups of infusion per day (one sachet per cup of 150 ml). Repeat this for three to six months.

At the onset of infection, take the same dose of cranberry but increase the number of infusions to three or four per day.


* Certain bacterias found in meat are very resistant and may increase the chance of contamination in the urinary tracts (1)

** Constipation (a lack of fibres & mucilag) increases the chance of bacteria stagnation in the rectum and the colonisation of the urinary tracts.



(1)    Retail meat consumption and the acquisition of antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli causing urinary tract infections: a case-control study. Manges AR, Smith SP, et al. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2007

(2)    Preventing urinary tract infections after menopause without antibiotics. Caretto M1, Giannini A1, Russo E1, Simoncini T2. Maturitas. 2017 May;

(3)    Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2016 Antimicrobial effects of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus acidophilus against multidrug-resistant enteroaggregative Escherichia coli. Kumar  M1, Dhaka P1, Vijay D1, Vergis J1, Mohan V1, Kumar A1, Kurkure NV2, Barbuddhe SB3, Malik SV1, Rawool DB4.