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Up to 50% of women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) by 32. Urinary tract infections affect the bladder or the kidneys and are the most common bacterial infection in humans.
“Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter the urethra and travel up to the bladder,” says Nurse Practitioner Kemi Owoeye. “Bladder infections are more common than kidney infections since the bacteria has to travel higher up the urinary tract to reach the kidneys.”
People of all ages get UTIs, but adult women are the most susceptible due to a variety of risk factors, including:
- Female anatomy: Women have shorter urethras than men, making it easier for bacteria to travel to the bladder
- Sexual activity: Sexually active women are more prone to UTIs than abstinent women. Certain types of birth control can also increase the risk of developing a UTI.
- Menopause: A decline in estrogen results in changes in the urinary tract that can make a woman more vulnerable to infection.
What to look for
The type of symptoms a patient is experiencing can help doctors determine where the infection is located. Depending on what part of the urinary tract is affected, different symptoms can occur.
Diagnosis and treatment
Your provider will discuss your symptoms and request a urine sample at your visit. The sample will be sent to a lab and analyzed for white blood cells, red blood cells, and bacteria. This helps your doctor know which type of bacteria is present and what medication will be the most effective in treating your UTI.
Recurrent urinary tract infections are typically defined as two or more culture-proven infections in six months or greater than 3 in one year. A urogynecologist can provide a workup to determine the cause of the recurrent infections, and there are a variety of therapies available for treatment.
If you are experiencing discomfort while urinating or have other concerns, schedule an appointment with your doctor today.
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