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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Risks for Women

From the Pelvic Floor Articles List

UTI risks for womenWhat are some risk factors for developing urinary tract infections in women?

Women are more likely to have a urinary tract infection (UTI) than a man. Your anatomy is partially to blame, and your health’s reliance on estrogen is also a culprit. Certain birth control methods can also be an issue.

Because a women’s urethra is located close to the anus, it creates a higher risk of E.coli (bacteria found in the large intestine) making its way to the urethra. Wiping from front to back can help minimize this risk, but it doesn’t eliminate it entirely.

Having a shorter urethra also creates a risk for women. Bacteria that comes in contact with the urethra can quickly make its way through the urinary tract.

Sexual intercourse is one way that bacteria can easily be introduced to the urethra. If you also use a spermicide or diaphragm during sex, those can further increase your risk for a UTI. A diaphragm may cause some tissue trauma, making the area more susceptible to bacteria. Similarly, spermicides can change the chemical balance of the vagina, also increasing susceptibility for bacteria.

Besides your anatomy, your need of estrogen can also contribute to UTIs. If you are experiencing no or low estrogen levels, such as during menopause or certain medical treatments, the health of your urinary tract may suffer. Adequate estrogen is needed to keep the tissues of the vagina, bladder, and urinary tract healthy. If there is too little estrogen available, those tissues can deteriorate and make you more susceptible to a urinary tract infection. With decreased estrogen levels, you could also experience urinary incontinence, incomplete voiding, bladder leakage, and other urinary issues, possibly increasing your risk for urinary tract infections during menopause.

Estrogen also plays a role in the vagina and bladder producing substances which can help prevent urinary tract infections. So without adequate estrogen, your body may not be able to naturally discourage bacteria that can lead to a UTI.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection, it’s important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Untreated, a UTI can lead to a more serious kidney infection and possibly kidney damage.

Although being a woman increases your risk for a urinary tract infection, there can be other factors, such as diabetes, as well. If you find you are developing multiple UTIs, you and your doctor will want to conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the cause of your infections so you can work together to find the best preventive and treatment options for you.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

09-15-2015 - 05:15 PM


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