The problem of recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) in women is frustrating, uncomfortable and discouraging. Recurrent UTI is defined as more than 3 urinary tract infections in a year. Aside from some obvious tips like urinating after sexual activity, etc., we have been looking for the best ways to prevent women from getting another UTI. Taking a daily antibiotic and cranberry extract are both used and the question is: which is better?
In a large study just published in a leading medical journal a daily dose of Bactrim (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) was more effective than cranberry capsules in preventing recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Premenopausal women in this study took either 1 pill of Bactrim daily vs. 500 mg of cranberry capsules twice daily. Antibiotics worked better, with women who took Bactrim having on average 1 UTI in the 12 months they were on it and women who took cranberry extract having 4 UTIs during the 12 months of taking it.
My feeling is there is no downside to taking cranberry extract and I don’t think we should discount it all together. We do have to think about resistance to antibiotics when we have someone taking a daily dose for suppression, so while there is a benefit to Bactrim in preventing UTI, there is a higher chance of developing antibiotic resistance. The benefit of Bactrim in preventing UTI is better, but must be weighed against the development of resistance.