Kidney stones used to be something that mainly afflicted men, but women are catching up. Women, if you want to avoid a stone attack, I've got some tips.

The incidence of kidney stones in women has been increasing. Photo: Shutterstock

Until recently, women had a much lower risk of getting kidney stones than men. But, sorry ladies, your odds of landing a stone are now almost equal to those of men. Why? There are a few reasons.

One major reason women are getting stones is because they’re taking better care of themselves. Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. Over the last decade or so, women began exercising more, but unfortunately some forgot one very important component to an exercise routine: water. The more you sweat, the less you urinate. And because you are lacking fluids, toxins aren’t flushed out of the body and start to build up inside the kidneys… possibly resulting in kidney stones.

If you’ve read the story of my initiation into the kidney-stoner club, you probably already know that dehydration can ultimately lead to kidney stones. So let me remind you again: you need to drink water to replace what you lose through sweat. Water or kidney stones—your choice!

Another factor in the growth of kidney stone rates among women is the obesity epidemic. And unfortunately, the impact of obesity on kidney stone risk appears to be greater in women than in men. Do your best to keep your weight managed—your kidneys will thank you.

Pregnant women are also at a higher risk for kidney stones, although pregnancy itself is not what causes them. What, then? Stones may form because either a woman has a genetic disposition for them (pretty rare) or because she isn’t drinking enough water during the gestation.

Pregnancy also causes the physiology of the body to change. Your kidneys increase their filtration—in other words, you pee a lot more. Your heart and cardiovascular system are working overtime, pumping enough blood for two. In the meantime, your body absorbs more calcium into the intestine, which is then released into the urine.

Having an ever-growing baby in the belly also causes the kidneys and ureters to become compressed as pregnancy progresses. This compression unfortunately increases the chances of contracting a UTI—urinary tract infection—which, as luck would have it, is yet another risk factor for kidney stones.

Whether you’re pregnant or not, the best way to reduce your risk of a kidney stone is to make sure you drink plenty of water. It will dilute your urine and make it less likely for a stone to form, literally helping to flush you out.

Want to learn what else you can do to reduce your risk of kidney stones? Get a copy of my book, Even Urologists Get Kidney Stones, to learn about risk factors and how to prevent future kidney stone attacks.