If you’re a frequent (or infrequent) sufferer of urinary tract infections, or UTIs, you may have heard from a friend or family member that you should drink more cranberry juice. As OBGYN professionals, obviously we’ve heard this one a lot, too — and there’s a certain amount of evidence that suggests cranberries can help.
It’s sort of an old idea; originally, doctors believed that cranberry juice helped prevent UTIs because it would make urine slightly more acidic — and that acidity would make the urinary tract less hospitable for bacteria that cause infections. Newer science however has put forth the idea that the antioxidants present in cranberries actually cause changes in the bacteria themselves, making them less able to “stick” to the walls of the urinary tract and cause problems.
The real problem with cranberry juice is twofold — first, it doesn’t work for everyone. Doctors aren’t sure exactly why, but for people without a history of regular UTIs, cranberries showed almost no benefit. Second, no matter your history, if you’ve already got a UTI, no amount of cranberry juice is going to make it better. In order to treat a UTI, you need to see a doctor — whether an OBGYN or a urologist, the doctor needs to prescribe medication to combat the bacteria that are present.
Finally, there are even some risks present with drinking cranberry juice; for example, people who are already susceptible to urinary oxalate stones tend to have more of them when they drink a lot of cranberry juice. Also, cranberry juice can interfere with some blood thinning medication and cause more bleeding than most doctors care to see.
The best advice is probably moderation; for more information about UTIs and other health issues, please contact our office for an appointment today!