A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection taking place in any part of your urinary systems such as kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most of the infections only occur in the lower part of the urinary tract. When it comes to gender, women are more likely of developing a UTI than men are. This is because women have shorter urethras which makes is easier for bacteria to access the bladder quickly. Having sex can also bring bacteria into the urinary tract. Bladder infections can be extremely painful and annoying. If the UTI spreads to your kidney, there can be severe consequences.
- A burning feeling when you urinate
- A frequent or intense urge to urinate, even though little comes out when you do
- Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen
- Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine
- Feeling tired or shaky
- Fever or chills (a sign the infection may have reached your kidneys)
The most common UTIs are an infection of the bladder (cystitis) and infection of the urethra (urethritis). These mainly occur in women.
Infection of the bladder (cystitis): Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the type of bacteria that is usually responsible for this type of UTI. Even though you don’t have to be sexually active to develop it, sexual intercourse can lead to cystitis. Women are at risk of this type because of their anatomy.
Infection of the urethra (urethritis): When bacteria from the anus is spread to the urethra, this type of UTI can occur. Sexually transmitted diseases can cause urethritis because the female urethra is close to the vagina.
Specific to women:
- Female anatomy
- Sexual activity
- Certain types of birth control
Other risk factors for UTIs include:
- Urinary tract abnormalities
- Blockages in the urinary tract
- A suppressed immune system
- Catheter use
- A recent urinary procedure
The first thing that is usually used to treat UTIs is antibiotics. When prescribing a medication, it will depend on your health condition and what bacteria was found. Commonly prescribed medication for simple UTIs are:
- Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, others)
- Fosfomycin (Monurol)
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
- Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
- Cephalexin (Keflex)
- Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)
- Azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax)
- Doxycycline (Monodox, Vibramycin, others)
Even though symptoms may resolve in a few days, you often have to continue taking the antibiotic for a week or more.
- Drink plenty of liquids, especially water
- Wipe from front to back
- Empty your bladder soon after intercourse
- Avoid potentially irritating feminine products
- Change your birth control method