Urinary tract infections typically occur when bacteria enter your urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder.
As a woman, you are more likely to get urinary tract infections than a man would and it’ll mainly affect your bladder and urethra. It is more common because your urethra is shorter and the bacteria needs to travel a shorter distance to reach your bladder.
It can also affect other parts of your urinary system such as your kidneys and ureters. Many women experience more than one infection during their lifetimes.
Symptoms of urinary tract infections
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy
- Urine that appears red, bright pink. This might be a sign of blood in the urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
Risk factors specific to women for Urinary tract infections
A risk factor is anything that makes it more likely you’ll get UTI.
1. Female anatomy
A woman has a shorter urethra than a man does, which shortens the distance that bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.
2. Sexual activity
Sexually active women tend to have more UTIs than do women who aren’t sexually active. Having a new sexual partner also increases your risk.
3. Family planning method
Women who use certain types of family planning methods like diaphragms for birth control may be at higher risk. The same may be the case for women who use spermicidal agents.
After menopause, a decline in circulating estrogen causes changes in the urinary tract that make you more vulnerable to infection.
5. Urinary tract abnormalities
Babies born with urinary tract abnormalities that don’t allow urine to leave the body normally or cause urine to back up in the urethra have an increased risk of UTIs.
6. Blockages in the urinary tract
Kidney stones or an enlarged prostate can trap urine in the bladder and increase the risk of UTIs.
7. A suppressed immune system
Diabetes and other diseases that impair the immune system — the body’s defense against germs — can increase the risk of UTIs.
8. Catheter use
People who can’t urinate on their own and use a tube (catheter) to urinate have an increased risk of UTIs. This may include people who are hospitalized, people with neurological problems that make it difficult to control their ability to urinate and people who are paralyzed.
9. A recent urinary procedure
Urinary surgery or an exam of your urinary tract that involves medical instruments can both increase your risk of developing a urinary tract infection.
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