UTIs — What Men and Women Need to Know About Urinary Infections

Do you have a UTI?


A UTI, or urinary tract infection, is an infection in any part of your urinary tract. A UTI can infect your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. However, most UTIs affect the bladder and the urethra. It’s important to know the facts about UTIs because if left untreated, you can suffer from serious complications if the UTI spreads to your kidneys. While anyone can get a UTI, women are more likely to develop them than men. This is likely due to the fact that women have shorter urethras then man.

In fact, about 50 percent of women will develop a UTI at some point in their life.

What causes a UTI

A UTI is caused by germs or bacteria that infect the urinary tract, as well as any part of the urinary system that is connected to it, such as the kidneys and the bladder. A UTI can often spread to the bladder, however they are usually not that serious if they are treated immediately. If the UTI spreads to the kidneys, the infection can become much more complication and make a person very ill.

Who is at risk for UTIs

  • Women are more at risk
  • Women in menopause
  • Being sexually active
  • Women who use a diaphragm as a form of oral contraception
  • Abnormalities in the urinary tract, such as at birth, or from a kidney stone or enlarged prostate that may be blocking urine from coming out
  • Weak immune system
  • Having to use a catheter to urinate

Signs and symptoms

UTIs are often bladder infections. While the signs and symptoms of a UTI are often very noticeable, painful, and very uncomfortable, it is possible for some people to have no symptoms at all. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Urinary urgency and frequency
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Cloudy urine or a foul-smelling odor in your urine
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or chills (may indicate it’s spread to your kidneys)

If left untreated, a UTI or bladder infection can spread to the kidneys. Once the infection has spread to the kidneys, signs and symptoms include:

  • Lower back pain on either side of your back
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting

Treatment For UTIs

Treatment for UTIs depend in your UTI. They are most often treated with antibiotics, but depending on the frequency of UTIs, the type of bacteria of the UTI, and the severity, your doctor will prescribe a certain type of antibiotic and possibly other medications for a specified period of time.

For less severe UTIs, your doctor may give you one of the following antibiotics: Bactrim or Septra, Amoxicillin, Nitrofurantoin, Ampicillin, Cipro or Levaquin. With less severe UTIs, your symptoms usually clear up within a few days of treatment. You may also be given pain medication to deal with the pain and discomfort associated with UTIs.

If you experience UTIs on a frequent or chronic basis, your doctor may recommend a longer course of antibiotics, intermittent short courses of antibiotics, take-home urine tests to monitor for another infection, a single dose of antibiotics if your infection may be related to having sexual intercourse, or vaginal estrogen therapy for women who are postmenopausal (to reduce recurrent UTIs). About 25 percent people who suffer from UTIs will experience a recurrent infection within six months. This means the antibiotics aren’t completely clearing up the infection.

For UTIs that become severe and complicated, you may be admitted to the hospital to be treated with intravenous antibiotics.


How to prevent UTIs

  • Drink plenty of water – helps get rid of any bacteria in your urinary tract
  • Some studies have found that drinking cranberry juice can prevent UTIs, especially in women who are at risk
  • Practice good bathroom hygiene aka always wipe front to back
  • Empty your bladder after having sexual intercourse
  • Avoid vaginal products, such as douches, that can irritate the urethra