Women who get frequent UTIs may reduce risk by drinking plenty of water

Women who
get frequent UTIs may reduce risk by drinking plenty of water


October 5, 2017


Infectious Diseases Society
of America


Women who suffer from recurrent urinary
tract infections may reduce their risk by drinking more water, according to a
new study.

Drinking an additional
three pints of water a day may keep the urinary tract infection (UTI) away —
at least for women who are prone — suggests a study being presented at IDWeek


The study found women at
risk of UTIs who increased their water intake by about that much water every
day were nearly half as likely to get UTIs as women who did not.

“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,” said Thomas M. Hooton, MD, lead author of the study and clinical
director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Miami School of
Medicine. “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

Women are more likely to
get UTIs than men in part because the urethra is shorter, meaning it is easier
for bacteria to travel from the rectum and vagina to the bladder. Drinking more
fluids increases the rate of flushing of bacteria from the bladder and also
likely reduces the concentration of bacteria that enter the bladder from the
vagina. This reduces the opportunities for bacteria to attach to cells that
line the urinary tract, which is necessary to cause an infection, Dr. Hooton

The study included 140
healthy premenopausal women who had at least three UTIs in the last year and
reported low daily fluid intake. Half of the women (70) who served as the
control group continued their usual daily fluid intake, while the remainder
were told to drink 1.5 liters of water a day (about three 16-ounce glasses) in
addition to their usual daily fluid intake. After one year, women in the
control group had 3.1 UTIs on average, whereas those in the water group had 1.6
UTIs on average, a 48 percent reduction. As a result, the water group averaged
fewer regimens of antibiotics (1.8) than the limited-water group (3.5), a
reduction of 47 percent. Reducing the use of antibiotics helps decrease the
risk of antibiotic resistance.

Researchers followed the
women throughout the year using visits and telephone calls. They documented
that over the course of the study, on average women in the water group
increased their daily water intake by 1.15 liters (about 2-1/2 pints) for a
total daily fluid intake (including water and other beverages) of 2.8 liters,
whereas women in the control group did not increase the amount of water they
drank and had a total daily fluid intake of 1.2 liters.

“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.

Forty to 60 percent of
women will develop a UTI during their lifetimes and one in four have a repeat
infection, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and
Kidney Diseases. UTIs lead to more than 10 million doctor visits a year,
according to the National Kidney Foundation.