Ask Dr. Angela: Why do women get so many urinary tract infections?

  • September 2, 2014

It’s a simple reason. Anatomy.

First let me clarify what a urinary tract infection – also known as a UTI – is all about.
More than 50 percent of adult woman have had at least one UTI. They are infections that occur anywhere in the urinary system and can affect the bladder, kidney and the tubes that help in urination – the urethra and ureters.

They occur when bacteria that are normally present on skin or in the GI tract make their way into the urinary system.

Women get UTIs because bacteria don’t have far to travel in order to infect the bladder. Compared to men, our urethra – the tube that drains the bladder — is much shorter and closer to the rectal area, a common source of bacteria.

That’s one reason why women often wake up with a UTI after sex. All that motion tends to push bacteria from the skin toward and into the urethra.

What are symptoms of a UTI?

  • Pain or a burning when you urinate
  • The urge to urinate more frequently
  • Foul-smelling, cloudy, or bloody urine
  • Pain in your lower abdomen, just above your bladder

You should let us know if you have these symptoms. Don’t wait until you have a fever because this means it can have progressed to a kidney infection, which is more serious.

You can also do four important things to help prevent a UTI.

  1. Drink lots of water.
  2. Take frequent bathroom breaks.
  3. Urinate before and after sex.
  4. Wipe from front to back.

Like all preventative care, being conscious of your body and being educated goes a long way to good health.