Does Cranberry Juice Really Help Urinary Tract Infections?

Does Cranberry Juice Really Help Urinary Tract Infections?

About half of all women develop a urinary tract infection (UTI) at least once in their lives, and around 30% have recurrent UTIs. When it hurts to urinate, you need to urinate often, and you need to go to the doctor for diagnoses and treatments frequently, your quality of life suffers. You’re probably looking for a way to reduce the number of infections you have or to treat them yourself. 

At Apple Hill Gynecology, Dr. Marsha Bornt and her staff see patients with UTIs every week. We understand the discomfort and desire to find a way to stop the infections. Sometimes our patients ask if cranberry juice could be the solution, and in this post we answer that question. 

Can cranberry juice stop a UTI? 

Unfortunately, the research into cranberry juice and UTIs is not at all clear. Some studies seem to show no effect at all, while others show a modest effect in some people. 

One thing is clear: If you already have a UTI, cranberry juice isn’t going to clear it up. You’re probably going to need antibiotics. 

Active compounds and frequent UTIs 

It’s less clear if cranberry juice could help you have fewer UTIs overall. It seems that some compounds in cranberry, like phenolic acids and flavonoids may help. Of the active compounds that are particularly interesting to scientists are proanthocyanidins, which are concentrated in cranberry supplements. 

Cranberry supplements may be helpful in reducing UTIs in women who have a history of UTIs, older women who live in nursing homes and children who are healthy other than having recurring UTIs. 

Genetics may play a role 

The results of studies into whether cranberry juice or cranberry supplements could be beneficial in preventing UTIs are inconsistent, Researchers believe that your genetic makeup, your immune health, metabolism, and other biologic factors could play a crucial role in both whether you’re susceptible to UTIs and whether the active compounds in cranberry juice and supplements may help. 

What should you do? 

First, if you have a UTI, you should make an appointment at Apple Hill Gynecology and get treatment. If you have recurrent UTIs, you could try taking cranberry supplements or adding cranberry juice to your diet to see if it helps. It’s unlikely to hurt, but researchers don’t know how long or what dose is likely to help the most. 

If you have questions about UTI prevention, schedule an appointment with Dr. Bornt. She’s happy to answer your questions, as well as suggest treatment for an active UTI. 

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