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What is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that can affect either the bladder (cystitis) or the kidneys (pyelonephritis). Symptoms of a UTI include pain with urination, frequent urination, or the feeling that you cannot empty your bladder completely. Severe infections can be accompanied by fever, pain in your back, or blood in your urine.
What causes a UTI?
The most common cause of UTIs is a bacteria called E. coli, usually found in feces, but many kinds of bacteria can also be the culprit. Although sexual intercourse is a risk factor for developing UTIs, an infection in your urinary tract is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Other risk factors for UTI include diabetes, obesity, and a history of prior UTI.
How can a UTI be diagnosed?
Although a urine test can help a clinician determine if you have a UTI, no testing is required. The diagnosis of UTI can be based on symptoms alone. Women know their bodies better than anyone else and are very good at knowing when they have an infection in their bladder. If a UTI is not improving after treatment with antibiotics, it can be helpful to send a culture of the urine to determine which bacteria is the cause and which antibiotics are most effective against that specific strain.
What is the treatment for a UTI?
Most UTIs can be treated with a short course of antibiotics; however, resistance to many of the antibiotics used to treat this condition are increasing. In complicated or recurrent cases, a longer course or intravenous antibiotics may be needed. If your symptoms do not improve in two or three days, your clinician will likely recommend a urine culture.
What can be done to prevent a UTI?
For some women, urinating immediately after sexual intercourse and good hygiene can reduce the risk of UTI. Make sure to wipe from "front to back" to avoid contaminating the urethra with feces (and potentially E. Coli). Never have vaginal intercourse after anal intercourse without washing prior. Staying hydrated with plenty of water is important to prevent colonization of the bladder with bacteria. Some women find certain foods like sugar and dairy increase their risk for UTIs.
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