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Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Women

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a general term for infection of the parts of the urinary tract. An infection of the urethra is called urethritis, an infection of the bladder is called cystitis and a kidney infection is called pyelonephritis.

UTIs are the second most common type of infection in the body. Women are especially prone to UTIs for anatomical reasons. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that live in the bowel and, a women’s urethra is shorter, allowing bacteria quicker access to the bladder. UTIs in men are not as common as in women but can be serious when they occur.

Recurrent UTIs are defined as having more than two infections in six months or three infections in a year.


  • Urgency to urinate
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Cloudy urine
  • Red, pink, or cola-colored urine – a sign of blood in the urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain in women
  • Rectal pain in men

Risk Factors

  • Being female
  • Being sexually active
  • Using a diaphragm for birth control
  • Being post-menopausal
  • Urinary tract abnormalities
  • Blockages in the urinary tract – Kidney stones or an enlarged prostate for example
  • A suppressed immune system – Diabetes for example
  • Using a catheter to empty the bladder


It has been suggested that women who are “non-secretors” of certain blood group antigens may be more prone to recurrent urinary tract infections because bacteria, in these women, may be allowed to attach more easily. Women who have had more than three UTIs in a year are likely to continue to have them.

Options for Recurrent UTI Treatment:

  • Behavioral Modifications including increasing hydration to produce 2L UOP per 24hrs
  • Cranberry product supplementation
  • Estrogen therapy to genitalia
  • Low dose antibiotic taken daily for 6 months or longer
  • Single-dose of antibiotic after sexual intercourse
  • A short course of antibiotics when symptoms appear