Fact Or Fiction: Will Cranberry Juice Help Your UTI?

The urge hits you, and you walk yourself to the bathroom, sit down on the toilet, and begin to relieve your bladder. But then, just as the stream is about to finish, you suddenly feel like your vagina is shooting out fire, and that urge to urinate doesn’t end. Even as you wipe, you can feel your muscles contracting and that urge just sticks around, totally unwelcome and ridiculously uncomfortable.     

Congrats! You have a Urinary Tract Infection.   

Perhaps you had your first UTI as an adult, or, like yours truly, you’ve been getting them since you were a child. Whatever the case may be, there’s a good chance your mother, friends, or trusted strangers on the Internet have suggested you drink tons of cranberry juice to flush out the infection.   

But if left untreated, a UTI can and will spread to your kidneys, resulting in a very expensive trip to the ER and a whole mess of pain you cannot even fathom if you’ve never had one in the past. 

This is why the truth really needs to be out there for all women to hear:

YOU NEED ANTIBIOTICS TO PROPERLY TREAT A UTI

Sure, it sounds wonderful to just waltz into the nearest drug store and pick up some cranberry juice or pills and voila! UTI gone. While cranberries contain an active ingredient called proanthocyanidins which can keep bacteria from binding to the walls of the bladder and urinary tract, they will not, however, treat the infection.   

In fact, the more studies that have been conducted, the less cranberries have been proven to truly prevent a UTI, which is what had previously been believed for some time. Store-bought cranberry juice barely contains enough proanthocyanidins to prevent infection, let alone "treat" it. You can pick yourself up a jar of 100% pure cranberry juice, mix it with water, drink a whole bunch of it… and it still will not fully prevent a UTI. You’re really just consuming a ton of sugar when you do this, anyway.  

Certain pills such as AZO will certainly help ease your symptoms, but you need to see your doctor (or at the very least head to your closest walk-in-clinic) to have your urine analyzed and receive a prescription for a round of the proper antibiotics. Otherwise, as I mentioned before, you’ll be twice as miserable with a kidney infection in just a matter of time.   

The best way to keep your urinary tract healthy is to drink plenty of water each and every day. No need to douse your entire life in cranberry juice. Change your tampon frequently when on your cycle, and always (always, always!) urinate after sexual intercourse.