In both the male and female urinary systems, urine drains from the kidneys through the ureters into the bladder and then passes from the bladder down the urethra and to the external opening, the urinary meatus, to exit the body. In men, the urethra is about 8 inches (20 cm) long. In women, it is only about 1.5 inches (4 cm) long.
The structure of the female anatomy predisposes women to infection because the urethral opening is located very close to the anus, which is a common source of bacteria.
Therefore, bacteria can easily migrate across the perineum (the narrow band of flesh between the anus and the vagina) to the urethra. The structure of their physical anatomy makes infection less likely in men. The male urethra is much longer, and secretions from the prostate gland provide a better barrier.
There are, however, certain steps that women can take that will maintain the health of the urinary tract:
• Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods, which may further irritate the bladder.
• Drink eight to ten glasses of water or other fluids per day to dilute the bacteria in your urine.
• Eat plain yogurt.
• Wash before and after sex; ask your partner to do the same.
• Take showers instead of baths.
• Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes.
• If using a diaphragm, wash, rinse, and carefully dry after each use. After using the toilet, always wipe from front to back.
• Take a standardized cranberry extract every day to promote normal urinary tract health.
Cranberries have been known for decades to promote a healthy urinary tract. Clinical research demonstrates that cranberries’ proanthocyanidins are powerful antioxidants that can reduce oxidative stress.55 A double-blind comparison study confirms that Cran-Max® helps supports a healthy urinary tract.56 Each Life Extension® Cran-Max® capsule contains 500 mg of cranberry concentrate to promote urinary tract health.57-68
Each Cran-Max® capsule also contains:
• The synergistic, complete spectrum activity of the entire cranberry plant
• A unique delivery system that protects its cranberry constituents from degradation