Bacteria moving from the outside to the inner urinary organs (for example, from the anus to the urethra) can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs are more likely for a woman than for a man, because the female urethra is shorter and the opening is closer to the anus, thus making it more likely for bacteria to be relocated.
Women can prevent UTIs by:
- Wiping front to back every time, which minimizes the spread of bacteria to the urethra,
- Staying well hydrated, which will help flush bacteria with urination,
- Urinating with the urge rather than holding it in,
- Urinating after sex, which will flush bacteria away, and
- Using a water-based lubricant for sex (if needed), which will lessen irritation.
Good feminine hygiene can keep prevent infections. Cleanse gently – no need to scrub the vulva (your outer genital lips) as this could cause redness, small abrasions and irritation. When washing, don’t use a washcloth, loofa or sponge on your genitals. Gently cleansing with your hand, then letting the warm water rinse away any residue, is effective.
Keep in mind that vaginal discharge is your body’s natural way of keeping clean. No need to use soap (or a douche) to clean inside the vagina. In addition, products that are scented or perfumed could irritate the vaginal tissues and cause discomfort. It’s better to avoid these types of products around the vaginal opening or in the vagina.
Adapted from: What Your Momma Never Told You: Tips for Vulvar Hygiene – Marathon Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine