Researchers say women can reduce their risk of contracting urinary tract infections if they guzzle 1.5 liters of water a day. Does that really help?
Drinking water can apparently lower the risk for women of getting urinary tract infections (UTIs).
But how much do you need to drink?
According to the study presented at IDWeek 2017, women who regularly get UTIs can slash their risk if they drink six 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
That’s 1.5 liters.
For women who frequently experience UTIs, they may already be told to increase their intake of water.
But the benefits of doing so haven’t been studied in depth until now, the study authors say.
Doctors often inform women with UTIs to drink more fluid. They are also advised to take probiotics or D-mannose supplements, urinate directly after intercourse, or drink cranberry juice.
But none of those have been extensively studied, or they have conflicting results.
“This study provides supportive data that increased fluid intake is effective, at least in the demographic we studied — premenopausal women with high recurrence rate and low-volume drinkers,” Dr. Thomas Hooton, lead author of the study and clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Miami School of Medicine, told Healthline.
Hooton said it’s unclear if increased fluids would be effective in older women, women who don’t get UTIs regularly, or those who drink more fluid than those who took part in the study.
“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,” Hooton said in a statement.
About 25 percent of women will experience more than one UTI in their lifetime.
They are more prone to the infections than men due to the shorter size of their urethra. This makes it easier for bacteria to travel into the bladder.
The study evaluated 140 women under the age of 45 who had at least three UTIs a year.
All the women typically consumed less than six 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
Half of them drank an extra 8 ounces of water per day, bringing their total to 11 glasses a day.
The other half didn’t change their daily water consumption and had about five glasses per day.
A year later, the women who boosted their water intake had about 1.5 UTIs compared to the original three.
The women who drank more water took fewer antibiotics as well — something that may lower their risk of antibiotic resistance.
Betsy Foxman, PhD, an epidemiology professor at the University of Michigan, said that more fluid intake is typically linked to urine output.
There is good evidence from several studies that increased urine output decreases UTI risk, she noted.
Whether drinking more independent of urine output habits decreases a woman’s UTI risk is uncertain, but the evidence isn’t strong.
“Staying hydrated and voiding regularly is good advice for preventing UTI,” Foxman told Healthline.
So should you start guzzling good-old H20 whether you get UTIs regularly or not?
“There is no serious downside to increasing fluid intake in a healthy woman, and if she is having UTI recurrences, she should be made aware of such study and possible benefits of increased fluid intake in terms of reduction of UTI risk and antimicrobial use — she can decide,” Hooton said.
Still, more studies need to be done.
Hooton noted that his study needs to undergo peer review for publication, which he is working on.