UTI Symptoms & Treatments

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Women: Symptoms, Next Steps, & How to Reduce Your Risk

We’ve all felt it – that urge to run to the bathroom, but yet, your bladder is empty! If you’re experiencing this, you may have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Whether you’ve had UTIs in the past and want to avoid another one, or if you’ve never had one but want to decrease your chances of ever getting one, we’re breaking down for you what a UTI is, how you can prevent them, and what to do if you think you have one.

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection is an infection of the urinary tract, typically caused by a type of bacteria such as E. coli. The urinary tract includes the kidneys (where urine is produced), ureters (tubes connecting the kidneys with the bladder), the bladder (holds urine before it is released), and the urethra (tube connecting the bladder to where it is released outside of the body). Although many people refer to a bladder infection as a UTI, the infection can involve any or multiple components of the urinary tract. 

What symptoms are associated with a UTI?

When a woman has a urinary tract infection, they will commonly experience one or more of the following three symptoms:

  • Dysuria: pain while urinating
  • Urinary Urgency: feeling a strong urge to urinate even if you have just urinated or don’t need to urinate
  • Urinary Frequency: urinating more frequently than what is normal for you

Other less common symptoms, that require more urgent attention and are more frequent with kidney infections include:

  • Back pain (often lower back)
  • Fever, chills, nausea, and/or vomiting

How are UTIs treated?

A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection that should be treated with a prescription antibiotic. For this reason, it is important to reach out and contact your Diana Health Care Team or another healthcare provider if you aren’t already a Diana Health client. Only licensed healthcare professionals such as Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Physician Assistants (PAs), and doctors can prescribe antibiotics. 

Will I need to pee in a cup to give a urine specimen?

Depending on your health history, your provider may ask you to give a urine specimen so that more information can be gained about the type of infection that you have. For example, there may be microscopic blood in the urine that you can’t see or evidence of higher levels of certain substances that coincide with infection. The urine can be “dipped” in the clinic to look for evidence of infection and can also be looked at on a slide with a microscope and/or sent to a lab to see what type of bacteria is causing the infection. This can allow your provider to make sure that the antibiotic they are using to treat the infection is best for the type of bacteria causing the infection.

What can I do to decrease my chances of getting a UTI?

There are a variety of simple things you can do every day to reduce your risk of getting a UTI:

  1. Wipe front to back: UTIs are often caused by gut bacteria that enter the urethra (tube from the bladder to the opening of the body where urine exits). For this reason, it’s very important to wipe from front to back to decrease the chances of fecal bacteria from getting close to the opening of the urethra.
  2. Hydration: Adequate hydration helps to decrease the chances of getting a UTI. If your urine is dark yellow or brown, try to increase your water intake until your urine is lighter yellow like the color of lemonade. Pay attention to your thirst and drink when you are thirsty.  It’s important not to over-hydrate as drinking too much water has risks too. Research is not definitive as to whether or not cranberry juice or supplements may be beneficial.
  3. Urinate More Frequently: Urinate when you feel the urge to urinate rather than trying to wait a prolonged period of time. You may want to consider urinating when you wake, before every meal, and before bedtime, if you urinate infrequently.
  4. Urinate After Sex: Researchers are still trying to fully understand the timing of urination around vaginal intercourse, and risk of UTI. However, many experts suggest urinating after vaginal intercourse to decrease UTI risk.
  5. Avoid Douching: Avoid douching, scented lotions, powders, or feminine cleansing products in or around the vagina or the opening to the vagina. These can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina and surrounding area, predisposing you to infection.
  6. Clean Your Fun Devices Regularly: Keep devices such as “sex toys” and/or vibrators clean, according to manufacturers’ instructions, and follow guidelines to decrease the risk of infection

I think I may have a UTI right now – what should I do? 

If you think that you have a UTI, book a visit with us today. We often have same and next-day visits available for urgent issues like UTIs.

If you have a fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, severe pain, blood in your urine, or back or side pain, you should visit an urgent care or the emergency room to see a provider immediately.

At Diana Health, we care about you and are here to help you. Whether or not it is a UTI, we’ll help you with guidance and find the root-cause of your discomfort. Our providers are experts in women’s health care and are here to provide education and support!

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