A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system—your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract, including the bladder and the urethra. Our Women's Pelvic Medicine team includes subspecialist, Dr. Linda Brubaker, who has many years of experience treating adult women with frequent or recurring UTI.
Types of Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections typically occur when bacteria enter that urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. The most common types of urinary tract infections involve the bladder and urethra.
- Cystitis (infection of the bladder), which may lead to symptoms such as pelvic pressure, lower abdomen discomfort, frequent and painful urination or blood in the urine. Some women simply notice a change in the odor or appearance of their urine.
- Urethritis (infection of the urethra), which may include symptoms such as burning with urination or discharge.
- Kidney infection (also called pyelonephritis) which may include symptoms such as upper back and side pain, high fever, shaking and chills, nausea and vomiting.
One or two urinary tract infections in a year are common in women and do not require specialty evaluation. A recurrent urinary tract infection is defined as experiencing two or more UTIs (diagnosed with a urine culture test) in a six-month period or three or more within a year.
Treatment for Recurrent UTIs
When treated promptly, lower urinary tract infections rarely lead to complications. However, acute or chronic kidney infections may lead to kidney damage. It is extremely rare for surgery to be needed for treatment of urinary tract infections. Non-surgical treatments may include:
- Low-dose vaginal estrogen can significantly reduce UTI in women with low estrogen levels.
- Treatment with antibiotics. In women who experience UTI related to sexual activities, a lower-dose antibiotic can be given at the time of sexual activity to prevent UTI.
- Prevention with non-antibiotic measures, including the supplement D-mannose and certain probiotics.