UTI: Urinary Tract Infections
Pelvic pain, pain while urinating, and cloudy-looking urine are among the common signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), also sometimes called a bladder infection.
If you suspect a UTI, see your Women’s HealthFirst OB-GYN provider to get the treatment you need. A urinalysis can quickly determine whether a UTI is to blame for your symptoms and, if so, what type of bacteria might be causing it.
Why Women Are More Susceptible to UTIs
Half of all women are expected to experience at least one UTI in their lifetime. For men, however, it is a much different story: it is estimated that a mere 3% of all men will develop UTIs. There are a number of reasons why women are significantly more prone to developing UTIs than men. These include:
- Shorter urethra. The distance from the bladder to where urine exits the body in a woman is much shorter than for a man. This makes it easier for bacteria to quickly travel to the bladder once inside the urethra.
- Location of urethra near rectum. Because of its position just above the vaginal opening, the urethra is situated mere inches from the anus in women. Food waste, along with bacteria such as E. coli, regularly exit the rectum and may find its way to the urethra, especially when wiping from back to front with toilet paper. About half of all UTIs are caused by E. coli bacteria.
- Location of urethra near vaginal opening. Any type of contact with the vagina can easily allow bacteria to travel into the urethra. This is why urinating after sex may be recommended to help flush bacteria out of the urethra.
- Birth control. The use of spermicide can disrupt the bacterial balance in the vagina, leading to an abundance of harmful bacteria that can spread to the urethra.
- Pregnancy. Because a woman’s womb (uterus) sits atop her bladder, as the baby grows, the additional weight compresses the bladder, preventing the complete drainage of urine. The longer urine is held in the bladder, the more likely bacteria is to remain and multiply. In addition, a pregnant woman’s urine is less acidic (with more protein, sugar, and hormones), adding to the likelihood of bacterial growth and a UTI.
- Menopause. The drop in estrogen levels that occurs with menopause can thin the skin of the vagina, making tears and subsequent infections more likely. It can also offset the bacterial balance within the vagina, allowing harmful bacteria to accumulate and spread to the urethra.
Antibiotics are typically needed to stop a bladder infection. Your Women’s HealthFirst OB-GYN will typically prescribe the drug that best treats the type of bacteria causing your UTI. As is the case anytime you are given antibiotics, it is important to complete the full course of the medication, even if you start feeling better right away. Completing the medicine as prescribed can help prevent a recurrence of the infection.
If you have frequent UTIs, discuss this with your provider. You may need to try alternative treatments to avoid the risk of future antibiotic-resistant infections.
Think You May Have a UTI? Call Women’s HealthFirst
Do you think you may have a UTI or bladder infection? The OB-GYN specialists at Women’s HealthFirst have the knowledge and experience to diagnose and treat you properly the first time. In addition, our providers can treat even the most challenging of chronic UTI cases.
Call Women’s HealthFirst in northwest suburban Chicago at (847) 808-8884. You can also request an appointment now. We look forward to serving your women’s health needs at one of our five convenient locations.