Symptoms of a UTI (urinary tract infection) can range from very mild to having visible blood in the urine. This guide is a good introduction to UTI’s and what can be done to lessen the symptoms.
Your urinary tract is made up of your kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra. A UTI occurs when bacteria enter through the urethra and travel into the bladder. The most common form of UTI occurs in the lower urinary tract, which include the bladder (cystitis) and the urethra (urethritis).
Women are at a higher risk of developing a UTI simply because of their anatomy. Females have a shorter distance from the opening in the urethra to the anus compared to males, making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. The most common cause of urinary tract infection is from gastrointestinal bacteria, E. coli.
About 50-60% of women will experience a urinary tract infection in their lifetime. Certain lifestyle choices and medical conditions can increase your chances of developing a UTI, which include:
- Being sexually active
- Are pregnant
- Going through menopause
- Have kidney stones causing a urinary tract blockage
- Have diabetes mellitus
- Have had a UTI before
- Use spermicide
- Have recently had a urinary catheter
- Poor hygiene
Common symptoms to any type of urinary tract infection include:
- Strong and frequent urge to urinate
- Sharp pain or burning when urinating
- Passing small amounts of urine
- Soreness in the lower abdomen, back or sides
- Urine may look cloudy or contain blood
Diagnosis & Treatment
Standard diagnosis at County Ob/Gyn is via culture, which takes 24-48 hours to result. Providers will select an appropriate antibiotic based on the urine analysis, which is read rapidly. The culture will indicate if there is an unusual or resistant bacteria present that requires a change of medication. Providers wouldn’t know this information without a culture, which is why they strongly discourage treatment based only on symptoms or the urinalysis alone. It’s important to finish all of the medication prescribed by your provider, even after symptoms are no longer present, to kill all unwanted bacteria. If left untreated, an infection can spread from your bladder to kidneys, which can cause serious health problems.
To lower your risk of developing a UTI, try to:
- Urinate after intercourse to flush out bacteria
- Drink plenty of fluids including water to flush out bacteria
- Drink cranberry juice
- Wash skin around the anus and genital area
- Wipe from front to back
- Urinate when you feel the urge to
- Change your birth control method if needed
If you are pregnant and think you have a UTI, contact us immediately. It’s important to treat UTIs early to avoid potential problems for both you and your baby.
County Ob/Gyn offers comprehensive healthcare for women. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment with your provider by either calling us at (203) 488-8306 or emailing us on our secure server at firstname.lastname@example.org.