UTI (urinary tract infections) affect women more than men. The urinary tract makes and stores urine (pee). A urinary tract infection (UTI) is caused by bacteria (bak-teer-ee-uh) that get into your urinary tract. A UTI can happen in parts of your urinary tract, like your kidneys, bladder, or urethra (yuh-ree-thra).
If you have a UTI, you may have some of these signs:
- You have an urge to pass urine a lot, but you can go only a little bit at a time.
- It hurts or stings when you pass urine.
- Your urine smells bad.
- Your urine looks milky or cloudy.
- Your urine looks reddish (blood is in there).
- You feel pressure in your lower belly.
- You are tired or shaky.
- You have a fever.
Many things cause UTIs:
- Bacteria in your bowel movements (BM) or poop. Sometimes, after you have a BM, the bacteria in it can get into your urinary tract.
- Having vaginal sex. Bacteria are pushed into the bladder.
- Using certain types of birth control, like a diaphragm or spermicide (a cream, foam, or gel used to kill sperm).
- Anything that blocks the flow of urine, like a kidney stone (a stone that forms from crystals in urine. It builds up in your kidneys or in other areas).
- Having diabetes, which makes it harder for your body to fight other health problems.
- Having a tube in your bladder to help you pass urine (also called a catheter [ka-theh-ter]). The tube can get bacteria in it.
- Losing estrogen and changes in your vagina after menopause put you more at risk.
UTIs are treated with antibiotics (an-ty-by-ah-tiks), a medicine that kills bacteria. Your doctor will tell you how long you need to take the medicine. Make sure you take all of your medicine, even if you feel better!
There are there steps you can take to prevent a UTI:
- Urinate when you have to. Don't hold it.
- After you urinate or have a BM (poop), wipe your genital area from front to back.
- Drink a lot of water every day.
- Drink cranberry juice.
- Clean your vagina and anus each day with mild soap and water.
- Urinate before and after sex.
- Take showers, not baths.
- Don't use douches or feminine hygiene sprays.
- Wear panties with a cotton crotch.
- Drink water after sex.
- Use condoms or lubricants that don't have spermicide.
- See your doctor as soon as you have signs of a UTI.