What is a UTI?
A UTI is a “Urinary Tract Infection”, also known as “cystitis”. This means that bacteria have entered your urinary tract
What is the urinary tract?
The urinary tract is made of 4 areas:
- The urethra – the tube connecting your bladder to the outside world (via your pee-hole)
- The bladder
- The ureters – the tubes connecting the bladder to each kidney
- The kidneys
How common are UTIs?
They’re pretty common in women and unfortunately they tend to get commoner as you get older. Over half of women get a UTI at some point in their life.
What are the symptoms of UTI?
Symptoms can include:
- Burning sensation when urinating (peeing)
- Sudden urgent need to urinate
- Urinating small amounts more often
- Blood in the urine
- Sudden onset of urinary incontinence (wetting yourself)
- Low abdominal (tummy) pain
- Flank (loin/back) pain
The last 2 symptoms on the list can be a sign of more severe infection and should be treated urgently.
Why do I get UTIs after sex?
The act of sexual intercourse can physically push bacteria into the urethra. This condition is known as “honeymoon cystitis”.
Why do I keep getting UTIs?
- Sometimes bacteria simply re-enter the urinary tract
- Sometimes bacteria may have remained in the urinary tract after the last infection
- A woman’s urethra is far shorter than a man’s so it’s easier for bacteria to enter the bladder
- After menopause the area of skin around the opening of the vagina becomes thinner. This means that bacteria can enter the urethra more easily
What should I do when I get a UTI?
- If you think you have a UTI you should access advice from a doctor, particularly if you’re pregnant
- If you’ve had more than 3 UTIs in a year you may require further investigation (for example an ultrasound scan to look at your bladder and kidneys)
- If you’re getting frequent infections your doctor may prescribe a low-dose of an antibiotic every day as prevention.
Is there anything I can do to prevent UTI?
- Stay well hydrated – drink plenty of water
- Urinate after having sex
- Don’t use harsh soaps on your private parts
- Wipe yourself from front to back
If you have any concerns regarding UTIs, speak to your GP.