If you wake up with the urgent need to pee, only to find that it's extremely painful, and if you find that you still have a frequent urge to pee even though you've got nothing left, chances are you've got a urinary tract infection (UTI).
According to the American Urological Association, nearly half of all women will get at least one urinary tract infection over the course of their lifetime. And for some women, UTIs will happen repeatedly.
Read on to learn more about why urinary tract infections occur and what you can do to help prevent them.
Besides the urgency and pain of a UTI, you may notice that your urine is cloudy, has a strong odor, or even has a slight tinge of blood. You'll likely be in a lot of pain, including soreness in your back. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should call your well woman provider as soon as possible.
Sometimes, an infection spreads from the bladder to the kidneys, causing symptoms such as:
Kidney infections can be serious and need to be treated immediately. Contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the above symptoms corresponding with other UTI symptoms.
At the most basic level, women are prone to UTIs because of their anatomy. The canal that empties the bladder (the urethra) is fairly short in women, and its location at the front of the vaginal opening makes it prone to exposure to bacteria. Once bacteria enters the urinary tract, it can quickly move up to the bladder and cause an infection.
Sex is the most common cause of UTIs, since it offers plenty of opportunity for bacteria to enter the urethra. Infections often occur when a woman first starts having sex or when she's been having it frequently, which is why a UTI is sometimes called “honeymoon cystitis.”
Women are also prone to UTIS when they have a new sex partner, while pregnant, and during and after the menopause years. A woman's drop in estrogen during menopause and the natural shortening of her urethra can make her prone to repeat infections.
Your doctor will likely request a sample of your urine to determine what type of bacteria is causing your infection. Depending on what is found, they'll prescribe you a round of antibiotics. The most common antibiotic is called Macrobid. It's always important that you complete your round of antibiotics so that the infection doesn't resurface.
When you have a urinary tract infection, make sure that you drink plenty of pure water to help your system flush out the bacteria. Some women try to avoid potential irritants to the bladder, such as caffeine and alcohol, until the infection is cleared up.
Here are some basic steps that leading gynecologists recommend to prevent future UTIs:
If you have recurrent UTIs, it’s important for you to consult with your gynecologist, even if it the infection was first treated by your primary care doctor.
Urinary tract infections can be painful and scary if you've never had one before—not to mention frustrating if you get them repeatedly. The compassionate women's health professionals at Gainesville's All About Women are here to help provide comprehensive care for you during your UTI and to help women with recurrent UTIs find lasting solutions. Send us an email to get in touch with one of our physicians or set up an appointment today.