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Urinary Tract Infections

As the name implies, a urinary tract infection is an infection in the urinary tract.

At a Glance:

  • A common infection
  • Painful and/or frequent urination
  • Easily treated

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What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection is an infection in the urinary tract. The infection can occur in the following areas:

  • bladder - where urine is collected and stored
  • kidneys - filters waste from the blood and sends it to the bladder
  • ureters - tubes that lead from the kidney to the bladder
  • urethra - tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body

The bladder is most commonly infected, while the ureters are very rarely infected. UTIs should be addressed as soon as possible before they move to the kidneys.

What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection?

The symptoms of a bladder infection include:

  • burning or pain during urination
  • urge to urinate even when your bladder is empty
  • uncontrollable urge to urinate all the time, especially at night
  • lower abdominal pain or back pain
  • cloudy or bloody urine
  • low fever

If you have any of these symptoms...

If you have any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment at your local Planned Parenthood health center to get tested and treated for the UTI. If a bladder infection goes untreated, the infection can spread to the kidneys, leading to worsened symptoms such as chills, shaking, night sweats, a fever over 101F, and nausea and vomiting.

Only your healthcare provider can tell you if your symptoms are a result of a UTI or if they are symptoms of another problem, such as a sexually transmitted infection. Make your appointment at Planned Parenthood to get tested and ensure you get the best treatment.

What causes UTIs?

A urinary tract infection happens when bacteria gets into our urethra or bladder. This can happen pretty easily. Bacteria in fecal matter can be spread to the urethra during sex play - even bacteria from toilet water can back splash to cause a UTI. However, there are more high-risk activities that should be avoided such as unprotected anal intercourse.

Why are women more likely than men to get a UTI?

Women are more likely to get a urinary tract infection because of the simple fact that a woman's urethra is shorter and closer to the anus. This makes it easier for bacteria to get into the bladder to cause an infection.

How do I get tested for a UTI?

When you come in to Planned Parenthood, your urine will be tested to look for white blood cells, red blood cells, and certain chemicals. Your urine will also be tested for bacteria to make sure the right antibiotics are used for treatment.

How are UTIs treated?

Urinary tract infections are easy to treat - you just need the right antibiotics. Although you can treat the symptoms of a UTI with over-the-counter pain relievers, they will not cure the infection. Antibiotics will cure your infection. However, make sure to take all the antibiotics prescribed, even when the symptoms get better.

How can you reduce your risk of getting a UTI?

Sex and Hygiene:

  • keep your genital area clean and dry
  • urinate immediately before and after sexual activity
  • use condoms or internal condoms during vaginal intercourse
  • take showers instead of baths


  • avoid tight-fitting pants
  • wear cotton undergarments and change them daily


  • drink plenty of fluids, drink when you are thirsty
  • cranberries contain an acid that prevents bacteria growth, so drink unsweetened cranberry juice or take cranberry supplements
  • avoid caffeine, alcohol, and other fluids that irritate the bladder

What You Can Do to Prevent UTIs

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