Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms in Women & Prevention Tips

uti symptoms in women

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms in Women & Prevention Tips

Almost 50-60% of women will experience UTI once or even more than once in their lifetime. While the risks involve a variety of factors, treatments are readily available in the form of medication and natural solutions. 

UTI, generally, is pretty common among women and can involve any part of the urinary system. However, UTI Symptoms in Women usually develop after infection in the lower urinary tract, i.e., bladder and the urethra. 

Regardless, even if the infection remains limited to the bladder, symptoms can be annoying and painful. 

The Most Common Signs of a UTI in Women Include:

  • An urgency to urinate,
  • experiencing pain while doing so, and
  • pain in the sides or the lower abdomen

Though, it doesn’t necessarily end here. Frequent urination and burning after urination in a female can be just the early signs. 

There are many more things to look out for when trying to assess the Signs of Urinary Tract Infection in Women.

How Common is UTI in Females?

Quite common, to be realistic. About 1 in 5 women are likely to get UTI in their lifetime. 

Moreover, recurrent infection in women is also not unheard of, which presents its own complications. 

The main reason behind larger cases of UTI symptoms in women is due to a shorter urethra. Plus, a woman’s urethra lies in close proximity to the rectum, which makes bacterial exposure easier. 

Due to the commonality of this condition, fortunately, we have solutions to tackle it through medication and self-care measures.

But it’s crucial to seek treatment before the bacteria gets further up into the urinary tract and causes more issues. 

Proactive steps can help get rid of the discomfort. In fact, taking some actions beforehand can even cut back on your chances to get UTI.

I’ll be getting into more detail about everything related to the treatment and prevention options. But first, it’s important to have a quick breakdown of the Signs and Symptoms of UTI in Women.

 

UTI Symptoms in Women: Look Out for These Early Signs

If you suspect you have UTI, monitor your symptoms closely. 

Take note of these UTI Symptoms In Women:

  • Persistent urge to urinate 
  • Feeling the compulsion to urinate yet the body passes little to no urine 
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Frequently passing small amounts of urine
  • Pain in the lower abdomen, sides, lower back, or in the pelvic area
  • A feeling of pressure around the lower pelvis
  • Frequent incontinence (urine leakage)
  • Urine that looks cloudy
  • Reddish or bright pink colored pee (indicating the presence of blood)
  • Foul-smelling urine 
  • A sudden feeling of fatigue and shakiness
  • Mental effects or confusion (One of the more common UTI Symptoms in Elderly Women)
  • Decreased urine production and changes in appetite
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Nausea, vomiting, and fever

But Wait!

Do UTI Always Have Symptoms? 

No, it’s not necessary to always experience the Signs and Symptoms of UTI. There are asymptomatic cases as well. 

Still, a Urinary Tract Infection in Women is known to produce some classic symptoms. So, if you’re even the least bit observant, chances are you’ll experience some signs.

Moreover, it’s important to take note of the fact that UTI symptoms in women tend to change based on the severity. 

UTI Symptoms in Women vary based on the location of the infection.

#1. Urethritis (Infected Urethra)
  • Continual burning after urination in female
  • UTI discharge in female
#2. Cystitis (Infected Bladder)
  • Increase in the frequency of urination
  • Constant urge to urinate in female
  • Pain while urinating
  • Cloudy urine
  • Changes in the color of the urine, indicating blood
  • Lower abdomen pain
  • Pressure in the pelvic region
#3. Pyelonephritis (Infected Kidneys)
  • Pain in the sides or back
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

 

Signs of a Bladder Infection in Women are usually first noticed when you’re suspecting UTI. However, if it’s not treated on time, the bacteria may move up the urinary tract to reach the kidneys. 

This causes more severe complications and Complicated UTI Symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to seek treatment as soon as you perceive the first signs of infection. 

Now that you know the common symptoms of UTI in women, let’s see how exactly a woman gets infected.

 

How Does a Woman Get a Urinary Tract Infection?

UTI happens when the bacteria finds its way into the urinary tract. Most of the cases of infection are caused by a bacteria found in the intestines, E. coli.

However, one thing to note here is your urine doesn’t actually contain bacteria on its own. In fact, the bacteria get introduced to an otherwise sterile environment from outside the body.

The microorganism enters the bladder through the urethra and can take hold and multiply in the bladder. In more severe cases, it may travel up to the kidneys and continue to spread, which typically manifests itself through more complicated symptoms.

Nonetheless, the Causes of UTI in Female can range between a variety of reasons, causing inflammation and infection. 

 

Causes of UTI Symptoms in Women

Here are the most common reasons for UTI Symptoms in Women:

  • Gastrointestinal bacteria getting into the urinary tract
  • Menopause and hormonal changes
  • Female anatomy
  • Sexual activity and certain birth control measures
  • Kidney stones
  • Genetic conditions
  • Use of medical equipment to pass urine

Right below is a detailed explanation for further understanding.

What Causes a UTI?

The most common reasons for UTI symptoms in women involve infections that take place in the urethra or bladder. 

#1. Gastrointestinal Bacteria Infecting the Urinary Tract

In most cases, gastrointestinal bacteria find their way from the anus to the urethra. Or in some cases, the bacteria move up to the bladder.

Infection of the bladder is usually known as cystitis. Moreover, any sexually transmitted infections can also cause UTIs due to the close proximity of the vagina and the urethra. 

#2. Menopause

Menopause can also cause Urine Infection Symptoms in Women. This typically happens due to the changes in the urinary tract that takes place as a result of menopause. 

A decline in the circulating estrogen can cause these changes, making you more vulnerable to UTIs.

#3. Anatomy of a Female

Women are predisposed to UTIs due to a shorter urethra. This naturally shortens the length the bacteria has to travel to reach the bladder. 

Moreover, women also get infected by the gastrointestinal bacteria getting in contact with the urethra through the anus. 

#4. Sexual Activity

Women who are sexually active are more exposed to the chances of developing a UTI. They may even experience recurrent cases of UTIs that are more frequent. 

Having a new sexual partner may also increase the risk of urinary tract infection. Women who aren’t sexually active may also get UTIs but due to different reasons. 

#5. Use of Certain Birth Control Measures

Females using certain types of birth control measures may be at a higher risk of infection. For instance, if you use diaphragms or spermicides to prevent pregnancy, the chances of a UTI is higher. 

Moreover, there are still chances of getting STDs that may become a cause for UTIs. Spermicide can also cause burning, itching, or any other allergic reaction. 

#6. Anything That Affects the Urine Flow

There could be many factors affecting the normal flow of urine. The reasons may include kidney stones or urinary tract abnormalities.

As a result, there can be blockages in the urinary tract and the urine may get trapped in the bladder. 

Your doctor will be able to diagnose these issues if this is the reason for UTI symptoms in women.

#7. Genes Or Medical Conditions

Some women may also get UTIs due to their genes. Female relatives of recurrent UTI patients are more likely to have the infection themselves. 

On the other hand, certain medical conditions like diabetes compromise the immune system. This indeed increases the risk of UTIs in women. 

#8. The Use of Catheter

Some women who can’t urinate on their own due to hospitalization, paralysis, or other conditions use a catheter. This helps them to pass urine. 

Though, the use of a catheter increases the risk of getting an infection.

Thus, the causes of Urine Infection Symptoms in Female can range between a variety of factors.

In fact, even a surgical procedure involving the urinary tract can increase the risk of infection. 

To determine the appropriate treatment, your doctor may ask you to undergo a urinalysis. Plus, the specialist collects a urine culture to determine the type of bacteria. 

In the case of recurrent infections, the healthcare professional may also use an ultrasound or CT scan for a proper examination. 

Nonetheless, post determining the presence of a UTI, there are treatments to find relief. 

However, you may wonder if it’s possible to get rid of infections without medications. 

 

Can a UTI Go Away on Its Own?

Yes, some of the mild infections may clear up on their own. However, it’s risky to wait around once you confirm a UTI. 

Not to mention, it’s uncommon for healthcare providers to advise you to wait and see improvements.

In most cases, UTI symptoms in women are best treatable with the use of antibiotics.

While there have been concerns over antibiotic resistance, so far it has proven to be the most reliable Urinary Tract Infection Treatment

With antibiotics, most symptoms will clear up within a few days. 

In cases where it takes longer or there have been recurrent UTIs, you may have to undergo further treatment. 

So, UTI Treatment Without Antibiotics is possible as your body may get rid of mild infections on its own. However, it’s risky and not advisable when you know for certain that you’ve got a UTI. 

But what about the cases where you can actually prevent UTI from recurring? 

Protecting yourself from urinary tract infections is most certainly possible with easy home remedies. 

 

Home Remedies for UTI Symptoms in Women

Follow these self-care tips and home remedies to treat UTI symptoms:

  • Drink up H20 as many times as you feel thirsty
  • Drink cranberry juice
  • Eat Vitamin C rich vegetables and fruits 
  • Take a probiotic
  • Practice good hygiene 
  • Use a water-based lubricant while having sex
  • Review your birth control measures 
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing

UTIs can be painful and can cause a lot of discomforts. However, certain lifestyle adjustments can help you fight off the chances of recurring infections. 

Moreover, these steps will also help you ease discomfort while antibiotics fix any existent UTIs.

So, without further ado, here are the actions you must take to prevent and manage your UTI Symptoms better:

#1. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking enough water each day has a whole lot more benefits than keeping you just hydrated. As you may already know, water helps flush toxins out of your body. 

As a result, when you drink enough water, you decrease the chances of any infections.

It dilutes your urine and makes you pee more frequently. Hence, your body gets rid of bacteria before they infest your bladder. 

So, be sure to drink water as many times as you need. 

PRO TIP:

You can also choose to have coconut water as it furthers hydration. People in many parts of the world believe it to be a natural diuretic. Thus, it helps flush out toxins more readily. 

#2. Drink Unsweetened Cranberry Juice

Many people commonly drink cranberry juice to fight off infections.

There have been studies in women with a recent history of UTIs who were able to reduce the frequency of infections with cranberry juice. 

The theory is that it prevents E. coli from adhering to the urinary tract wall.

So, technically,  having it in juice or tablet form should help prevent urinary tract infections. 

However, it’s important to mention here that the data on this is mixed. 

So, you may have to go by your own gut instincts here. It’s likely safe and healthy to drink cranberry juice anyway. 

Thus, you may continue to drink it if you like the taste and notice health benefits. Only avoid drinking it if you take blood-thinning medications. 

#3. Up Your Vitamin C Intake

There is some evidence suggesting the usefulness of Vitamin C in preventing infections. The logic here is the increased acidity in the urine due to Vitamin C intake. 

This increase in acidity is believed to kill off bacteria. Even if there are no immediate benefits, there’s no harm in eating more Vitamin C enriched fruits and vegetables. 

In fact, there’s likely a whole range of benefits from doing so. Thus, don’t forget to stock up on oranges, grapefruit, and kiwifruit the next time you go shopping. 

Also, you can prepare some dishes with red and green peppers, broccoli, and other vegetables rich in Vitamin C. 

Taking a proper diet will not only help in warding off UTIs but will also benefit other areas of your health. 

#4. Take Probiotic Through Food Or Supplements

As is clear, UTIs start from bacterial infections. So, the use of probiotics to increase the number of good bacteria makes sense. 

Probiotics encourage the ratio of good bacteria in your gut and have a host of health benefits. It can improve digestive health, reduce the risk of metabolic disorders, and increase immunity. 

Some strains of probiotics can also decrease the risk of urinary tract infections. Not to mention, it’ll also reduce the severity of UTI symptoms in women. 

Studies have proven probiotics to be beneficial in preventing recurrent UTIs when used in combination with antibiotics. 

Thus, increase your intake of probiotics to maintain a healthy gut microbiome and decrease bad bacteria that may cause infections. 

Furthermore, you may take probiotics through foods or a supplement. 

#5. Good Hygiene Measures 

Good hygiene goes a long way in acting as a shield against urinary tract infections.

This is more important for women due to a shorter urethra, making it easy for the bacteria to find access inside the urinary tract. 

For this reason, women should be more diligent in their personal hygiene. Females should be avoiding the use of heavily scented and chemical-laden intimate products. 

Moreover, you should also practice good hygiene after a bowel movement and during menstrual cycles.

Wiping from front to back and changing tampons or sanitary napkins frequently helps prevent infections. 

Also, remember to empty your bladder after intercourse and drink a full glass of water to help flush out toxins. 

#6. Use a Lubricant and Switch Birth Control Measures

Use a water-based lubricant during sex if you experience vaginal dryness. More specifically, avoid the use of spermicide-treated condoms that may encourage bacterial growth. 

Also, using diaphragms for birth control has shown to increase the risk of UTIs. If you’ve been encountering repeated infections, talk to your doctor for alternative birth control measures. 

Besides these measures, you might also want to avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes. Using loose-fitting or cotton clothing prevents the moisture from getting trapped, which helps discourage bacterial growth.

Making these lifestyle changes are not tough, either. These are typical daily life measures that will dramatically decrease the risks of UTIs and even prevent a recurrence. 

 

The Bottom Line

Urinary tract infections can be extremely frustrating to deal with, especially for women. However, it doesn’t mean you cannot protect yourself and reduce the risk.

Taking some preventive measures can help you steer clear of UTIs. Sexually active women who tend to get frequent UTIs should remember to urinate before and after intercourse. Plus, you must drink plenty of water and eat right to flush out toxins while maintaining a healthy gut. 

If you’re already experiencing more than two to three symptoms of UTI in women at once, it’s best to get checked. Early detection is easy to fix with antibiotics. In fact, you’ll find relief within 3-4 days.

Use the above-mentioned home remedies to cut back on recurring UTIs and lower the risk of ever getting one. 

Regina Stemers
regina@horizonclinics.org

Dr. Regina Stemers spent many years as a general physician before developing an interest in the management of skin conditions. This has led her to take an active part in multiple research studies centered around skincare, aging, and other areas of female medical concerns. Read More... About Me

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