Urinary Tract Infections

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that occurs in the kidneys, the ureters (tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder, and the urethra (the tube through which the bladder empties). UTIs are very common. Women tend to have more urinary infections than men because a woman’s urethra is relatively short and closer to sources of bacteria. For many women, sexual activity can trigger an infection, although the reasons for this are unclear. If you think you may have a UTI, please call your healthcare provider who can perform tests to determine the best treatment options. UTIs can be treated with antibiotics.

Frequently asked questions about UTIs.

What are common UTI symptoms?

Common symptoms include:

  • A frequent urge to urinate.
  • A painful, burning sensation while passing urine.
  • A general sick feeling - tired, shaky, or washed-out.
  • A feeling of discomfort in the pelvic region.
  • An uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone (suprapubic area).
  • A strong urge to urinate, but passing only a small amount of urine.
  • The urine may look milky or cloudy, or reddish if blood is present.
  • A fever may be present, usually this means the infection has moved up into the kidneys.

How can I prevent UTIs in the future?

There are steps that you can take to help prevent UTIs:

  • Drink plenty of water every day.
  • Urinate when you feel the need; don’t resist the urge to urinate.
  • Wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from entering the vagina or urethra.
  • Cleanse the genital area before sex.
  • Always empty your bladder before and after sexual activity.
  • Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays, scented douches, perfumed bath products, scented toilet paper, and scented sanitary products. These may irritate the urethra or the sensitive skin around it.

What if I’m pregnant?

Hormonal changes and shifts in the position of the urinary tract during pregnancy may make it easier for bacteria to travel up the ureters to the kidneys. For this reason, many doctors recommend periodic urine tests. A pregnant woman who develops a UTI should be treated promptly to avoid preterm labor and other UTI-related risks such as high blood pressure.

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