Urinary tract infections are very common, particularly for women, affecting around one in two at some time in their life (as opposed to roughly one in 20 men). They affect women of all ages, and some women experience them multiple times, some back-to-back for years on end.
Urinary tract infections can be quite annoying. If you suffer from persistent UTIs, get in touch today! There are ways to help.
As the name suggests, a UTI is an infection of the urinary tract, which is made up of the kidneys, ureter, bladder and urethra. Women are more prone to UTIs because they have shorter urethras, which allow bacteria easy access to the bladder.
If left untreated, UTIs can lead to a more serious infection in the kidneys or bladder, so it’s important to see your doctor for early management. Thankfully, treatment is very effective and symptoms are easily managed.
What Are The Types and Causes UTIs?
UTIs are most commonly caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli) – a type of bacteria that is found in the lower intestine and accounts for about 90% of cases. When an infection occurs in the urethra, it is known as urethritis; when it occurs in the bladder is it known as cystitis; when it occurs in the kidneys it is known as pyelonephritis.
UTIs occur when bacteria enters the urinary tract, resulting in an infection. This bacteria can make its way there through a number of ways, the most common being from the anus. UTIs are one of the key reasons we are taught to wipe front to back after using the toilet, in order to prevent bacteria finding its way to the urethra. From there they can make their way through the urinary tract and invade the bladder, ureter and kidneys. Bacteria can find its way into the urinary tract during sexual intercourse too.
What Are The Symptoms of a UTI?
The most common symptoms of a UTI are:
• Pain or burning when you urinate
• Constant urge to urinate, but only a drop or two coming out when you go
• Foul smelling, cloudy or reddish urine. If there is a visible amount of blood in your urine, seek help immediately.
• Pain in the kidneys
• Pressure in your lower back or abdomen
Tips For Preventing UTIs
UTIs can be very frustrating, particularly if they are recurring. If you are more prone to UTIs, it is important to take measures to help ward off infection. Some helpful some tips for preventing UTIs are:
• Drink plenty of water to help flush out the urinary tract
• Don’t hold your urine in – a full bladder is a great breeding ground for bacteria
• Choose showers over taking a bath
• Always wipe front to back
• Clean your genitals before and after sex
• Urinate after sex
• Consider changing your form of contraception if you use diaphragm or spermicidal lubricant
• Opt for underwear made of materials that breathes well, such as cotton
Treating Urinary Tract Infections
Treating a UTI is matter of taking a course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria. If you leave it too long before you seek treatment and the infection spreads to the upper urinary tract (the kidneys), further assessment and treatment will be required to avoid complications.
If you suffer from recurring recurring UTIs, you may want to speak with your gynecologist about an ongoing treatment plan. This is suggested if you suffer from three or more a year. Long-term treatment may include taking low-dose antibiotics over a longer period to ward of infections, taking an antibiotic after intercourse or as soon as symptoms appear, and vaginal estrogen therapy.
If you have any questions about treating UTIs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Dr Bevan Brown is one of the most trusted gynaecologist and obstetricians in Sydney. Personalised care and strong relationships with our patients is of utmost importance!