Understanding UTIs

UTIs in women

What is a UTI?

An infection in the urinary tract.

Most are caused by bacteria that enter the tract through the urethra.

Risk factors
• Being sexually active.
• Previous UTIs.
• Being pregnant.
• Being postmenopausal.
• Using a tube (catheter) in the bladder.
• Having a kidney stone.
• Having a weak immune system.
• Using a diaphragm or spermicide for birth control.

• A “burning” or pain when you urinate.
• Pain in your back, sides, or lower belly.
• Frequent or intense urges to urinate.
• Trouble urinating.
• Passing only small amounts of urine.
• Bloody urine.
• Dark, cloudy, or strong-smelling urine.
• Chillsor fever.

Urine tests: A clean urine sample is tested for signs of infection and the kind of bacteria causing any infection. For UTIs that come back, the doctor may use:
Images of the urinary tract: x-rays, ultrasound, or a computed tomography (tuhMOG-ruh-fee) (CT) scan.
A cystoscopy (siss-TOSS-kuh-pee): a thin tube with lenses and a light used to look inside the bladder.
• Most are treated with antibiotics.
• Drink plenty of water to help the antibiotics clear your body of bacteria.
• Drink plenty of water each day (6–8 glasses).
• Urinate when you feel the urge.
• Use underpants or pads designed to collect urine instead of an inserted catheter.
• After using the bathroom, always wipe front to back.
• Urinate after having sex.
• Avoid using spermicides or diaphragms if they cause you to have UTIs.
• Avoid feminine hygiene products such as deodorant sprays, douches, and powders.
Impact on pregnancy
• If you are pregnant and think you have a UTI, see a doctor right away. A UTI can lead to premature delivery and other health risks.
• Not all antibiotics can be taken during pregnancy. Your doctor will select the right treatment for you.
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