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Urinary Tract Infection

What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a condition where bacteria infects your urinary system, which includes the bladder, urethra, ureters and kidneys. More infections involve the urethra and the bladder. Women are more likely to develop a UTI than men.

Risk Factors

A UTI can occur when bacteria (often from the rectal area or the skin) get into your urine and travel up your urethra, infecting your bladder, ureters or kidneys. Risk factors for a urinary tract infection include:

  • Certain birth control methods – Diaphragms and condoms with spermicidal foam have been shown to increase the risk of UTIs.

  • Compromised immune system – People with diabetes tend to have weaker immune systems and have a harder time fighting off bacteria.

  • Menopause – Your body has less estrogen to protect against UTIs.

  • Recurrent bladder stones – Small, hard stones form from minerals in urine.

  • Sexual intercourse – It can push bacteria into the urethra.

  • Urinary tract abnormalities – A blockage or structural abnormality can lead to more UTIs.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Burning during urination

  • Frequent need to urinate

  • Only being able to urinate a few drops when you go

  • Pelvic pain

  • Urine that has an odor or is cloudy or bloody

See your doctor if you have these symptoms – most UTIs require prescription antibiotics.

A severe UTI can lead to a kidney infection, which can cause fever and back pain. If you have these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for urinary tract infections include:

  • Antibiotics – Your doctor may prescribe a three- to five-day course of antibiotics.

  • Topical hormone replacement – Postmenopausal women can replace lost estrogen with an estrogen cream applied to the skin.

More severe or complicated UTIs may require intravenous (IV) antibiotics given in the hospital.

Prevention

You can help reduce your risk of a urinary tract infection by:

  • Emptying your bladder completely when you go to the bathroom

  • Not holding your urine for long periods of time

  • Staying well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water

  • Talking to your doctor to see if your birth control method increases your risk

  • Urinating immediately after sexual intercourse

  • Wiping from front to back to prevent bacteria around the anus from transferring into the urethra or vagina

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of urinary tract infection, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat urinary tract infection.