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Does cranberry juice have benefits for women and girls?

Cranberry juice: Does it boost sexual health or treat UTIs?

Cranberry juice is often said to treat urinary tract infections and boost women's sexual health, but you may wonder whether these notions are true. This article explains whether cranberry juice has benefits for women and girls.

Evidence-based
This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
Last updated on February 23, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on February 6, 2023.

While you may be used to eating cranberries as a sauce at Thanksgiving or dried and tossed into a salad, many people also drink cranberry juice.

These sour fruits are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, and their juice is often said to offer various benefits for women, in particular.

Many claim that cranberry juice helps prevent or treat urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Although scientific results are mixed, some studies suggest that cranberry juice is effective for this purpose — and may even have other benefits for women’s health.

This article explores how cranberry juice affects women’s health.

Benefits of cranberry juice for women’s health

Rumors abound that cranberry juice may improve people’s sex lives by changing the flavor of vaginal secretions.

While these claims are scientifically unfounded, some evidence suggests that cranberry juice may positively affect postmenopausal health, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, and signs of aging.

Sexual health

Some sources assert that drinking cranberry juice may improve sexual experiences by enhancing the flavor of vaginal secretions.

While one study list diets as one of several factors that influence the vagina’s microbiome, no scientific evidence supports the claim that cranberry juice can improve the vaginal taste.

Thus, drinking cranberry juice is unlikely to boost your sex life.

Postmenopausal health

Menopause marks the cessation of menstruation. It comes with hormonal changes that may lead to unpleasant symptoms, such as mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and an increased risk of urinary tract infections.

Interestingly, animal studies indicate that cranberry juice may support postmenopausal health.

One older study in rats that had their ovaries removed found that regular cranberry intake reduced total cholesterol and other heart-health biomarkers. The removal of the rats’ ovaries imitates the reduction in hormones after menopause in women.

All the same, human studies are needed.

Cranberry juice may help prevent signs of aging and promote immunity

Cranberries are incredibly high in antioxidants, powerful compounds that help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals in your body. These berries’ antioxidants include vitamin C, quercetin, flavonoids, and anthocyanins.

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Processing berries into juice may cause some loss of antioxidants, but cranberry juice is still fairly high in these compounds. 1 cup (240 mL) of cranberry juice contains over 78% of the daily value for vitamin C.

This vitamin promotes immune health and proper collagen formation, which may increase your skin’s elasticity and reduce signs of aging.

Some studies also suggest that vitamin C supports heart health in women by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which may contribute to blockages in your arteries.

Yet, studies have observed conflicting results, and more research is needed to understand the relationship between vitamin C and heart health.

Furthermore, test-tube studies indicate that quercetin may help prevent pancreatic, breast, and colon cancer, but human research is lacking.

Cranberry juice may help ease premenstrual syndrome symptoms and prevent osteoporosis

Cranberry juice is a decent source of magnesium, containing 4% of the daily value in 1 cup (240 mL).

This mineral — many people don’t get enough of — is essential for many body processes, including healthy bones and proper muscle function. A deficiency may contribute to muscle cramps.

Increasing your magnesium intake may help muscles contract more effectively, resulting in less pain. As such, this mineral is thought to help ease PMS symptoms, which may include cramps.

What’s more, magnesium is necessary for regulating bone density. Women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis — or bone density loss — later in life, especially after menopause when estrogen’s protective effects on bones decrease.

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Thus, magnesium may help alleviate this condition.

During PMS, you may also experience anxiety, depression, lower back pain, and breast tenderness. One older review showed a significant decrease in these symptoms when women were supplemented with magnesium.

Still, the amount of magnesium in this review was far higher than what you’d get from drinking cranberry juice. As such, specific research on cranberry juice is needed.

Summary: While more human studies are necessary, cranberry juice may benefit women’s health. These include easing PMS symptoms, preventing osteoporosis, aiding postmenopausal health, and reducing signs of aging.

Does cranberry juice prevent urinary tract infections?

Cranberry juices and supplements have long been a popular folk remedy for treating or preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs).

This condition occurs when bacteria like E. coli enter and grow in your urinary tract — your ureters, bladder, urethra, or kidneys.

People with a vagina are at greater risk of these infections, in part due to their anatomy. Sexual activity and pregnancy also increase your risk.

Mild urinary tract infection symptoms include a painful, burning sensation when urinating, while a UTI left untreated may cause serious complications like a kidney infection.

The most common treatment for a UTI is antibiotics, though these antibiotics may have long-term side effects and kill some of the good bacteria in your gut.

Therefore, many people are interested in preventing these infections in the first place.

Proanthocyanidins, a type of tannin found in cranberries, inhibit bacteria like E. coli from adhering to the wall of your urinary tract. This may help stop bacteria from increasing in number and causing infection.

Evidence about cranberries and UTI prevention is mixed, but studies suggest a moderate correlation between cranberries or cranberry juice and UTI prevention.

However, no evidence shows that cranberry juice can treat urinary tract infections. You should visit your doctor if you suspect you already have an infection.

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Summary: Some evidence suggests that cranberry juice may help prevent urinary tract infections, though results are mixed — and no research indicates that this juice can treat urinary tract infections.

How much cranberry juice should you drink?

There is very limited data on how much cranberry juice effectively prevents urinary tract infections or other potential health benefits. The same applies to supplements, so you’ll likely find differing dosages.

One review on urinary tract infection prevention used a variety of doses.

For example, a group in one study drank 0.23 ounces (6.8 mL) of Ocean Spray cranberry juice per pound (15 mL per kg) of body weight. In another study, people took beetroot capsules containing 8 grams of cranberry extract once per day.

If you take cranberry pills, never exceed the dosage recommendation on the label.

If you want to know a specific amount of juice or need a particular dosage, consult a doctor or registered dietitian.

Summary: There’s no set dosage of cranberry juice for urinary tract infection prevention or any other potential health benefits. Talk to a doctor or registered dietitian to determine a safe and effective dosage.

Does cranberry juice have any downsides?

The main downside of cranberry juice is that store-bought blends often contain other juices or add a lot of sugar to make the drink more palatable, as cranberry juice is very sour.

As such, you should avoid any cranberry juice blend that’s less than 100% juice, contains added sugar, or lists a different juice as its first ingredient.

Pure, unsweetened cranberry juice is the most straightforward, healthiest option. Still, it may be expensive.

You can also purchase cranberry supplements, which are more concentrated than juice. While these may seem more effective, a greater quantity doesn’t necessarily provide a greater benefit or faster result.

Finally, large doses of cranberry extract may enhance the effects of warfarin, a blood thinner. Even if you don’t take this medication, you must check with your doctor before starting any new supplement.

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Summary: Commercial cranberry juices are often loaded with added sugar or sweetened with other fruit juices. Aim to buy pure, unsweetened cranberry juice if possible.

Summary

Rumors about cranberry juice boosting vaginal flavor are unfounded.

All the same, this juice boasts vitamin C, magnesium, and various antioxidants. Evidence suggests that these nutrients may boost immune health, ease premenstrual syndrome symptoms, and promote bone density in women.

Although scientific results are mixed, Cranberry juice may also help prevent urinary tract infections.

Try this today: Cranberry juice is just one potential way to prevent urinary tract infections. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends urinating after sex, staying hydrated, and minimizing douching, powders, or sprays in the vaginal area.

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