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Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs in any part of the urinary system but most often affects the bladder and urethra. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract. While occasional UTIs are not uncommon and can be alleviated with antibiotics, especially for women, frequent infections should be discussed with your urologist.

In women who experience frequent UTIs the urinary burning, urgency, and pelvic discomfort can be especially troublesome. Women get UTIs more often than men because they have a shorter urethra. While UTIs are relatively rare in men, especially younger men, prevalence increases with age.

Symptoms of a UTI

UTIs in men and women cause painful burning during urination, urinary urge, and pelvic discomfort. Additional symptoms in men may include foul-smelling urine, penile fluid discharge, and abdominal or flank/lower back pain.

Diagnosing a UTI

Diagnosis of a UTI is often made based on a positive urine culture. The urine may also be tested for increased white blood cells, which may be present in an underlying infection.

Treatment for Chronic UTIs

Your doctor will start with a medical workup to ensure nothing in the bladder is causing infection and may also order diagnostic tests such as an ultrasound, CT scan, cystoscopy, or urine culture.

  • UTIs in younger women are typically associated with sexual intercourse. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to take before and after intercourse to prevent recurring infection
  • For post-menopausal women, estrogen-based vaginal creams can help alleviate hormonal changes and vaginal dryness that can lead to frequent UTIs
  • Natural remedies such as vitamin C can be taken to acidify urine and help kill bacteria that cause UTIs

Preventing UTIs

You can prevent UTIs from occurring by doing the following:

  • Practice safe sex by wearing a condom
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • In uncircumcised men, clean the area around and underneath the foreskin daily
  • Natural remedies such as vitamin C can be taken to acidify urine and help kill bacteria. Cranberry extract may prevent bacteria from attaching to the inner lining of the bladder.