Can Cranberry Juice Stop Your UTI?
Drinking cranberry juice is just one of the myths about preventing and treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). We’ll separate UTI fact from fiction.
The myths about preventing and treating a urinary tract infection (UTI) are many, but let’s get to the truth.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
About 60 percent of women will experience this common malady (and the painful, frequent and sometimes urgent urination that goes with it) over their lifetimes.
At the top of the UTI “myth list” is the widely held belief that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements can prevent and treat UTIs.
“There is an active ingredient in cranberries that can prevent adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall, particularly E. coli,” says urologist Courtenay Moore, MD. “But most of the studies have shown that juice and supplements don’t have enough of this active ingredient, A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs), to prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract.”
Overall, clinical studies on the efficacy of cranberry juices and extracts for the prevention of UTIs are conflicting.
In a 2013 meta-analysis, cranberry juice and tablets reduced the occurrence of UTIs compared to placebo in women with recurrent UTIs.
A 2012 Cochrane review concluded that cranberries did not significantly reduce the occurrence of symptomatic UTI, but cranberry juice may decrease the number of symptomatic UTIs over a 12-month period in women with recurrent UTIs.
Also, because supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is not known how much of the active ingredient each product contains. Therefore, many of the products may not have enough of the active ingredient to be effective in preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall.
“The bottom line? Cranberry can’t hurt, and it may help,” Dr. Moore says. She says it may be worth trying if you struggle with UTIs as the risk in doing so is very low.
Dr. Moore says she’s heard all of the myths about how to prevent or treat UTIs — drinking lots of water, urinating after sex, avoiding tight-fitting pants and staying away from hot tubs, bubble baths and tampons. None of these beliefs is supported by any scientific data, she says.
On the other hand, here are three things that Dr. Moore says women should do to help prevent UTIs:
Even though UTIs happen frequently, you can take steps to lower your risk.