Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections that affect either the bladder or the kidneys. Bladder infections occur when bacteria get into the urethra and travel up into the bladder. Kidney infections occur when the bacteria travel even higher, up into the kidneys. Both bladder and kidney infections are more common in people with vaginas.

Symptoms

Bladder Infection

  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • A feeling of urgency every time you have to urinate, but not always being able to pee
  • Feeling like your bladder still isn’t empty, even directly after urination
  • Blood in your urine

Kidney Infection

In addition to the symptoms listed above, you may also experience:

  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Back pain

Treatment

Your health care provider will obtain a urine sample from you to determine if there is an infection. If there is an infection, appropriate antibiotics will be prescribed. Along with taking prescribed medication, you should drink plenty of fluids to help flush out the bacteria. With treatment, UTI symptoms should go away in 1–2 days.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Visit your health care provider if you experience any of the above symptoms. If symptoms do not clear up within 1–2 days of taking medication, call your clinician again. If your symptoms worsen, call your health care provider as soon as possible.

Causes & Prevention

UTIs occur when bacteria from the digestive system find their way into the bladder. Factors that contribute to UTIs are:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Use of spermicides
  • Frequently holding your urine in/avoiding urination

To help avoid UTIs, you should:

  • Urinate immediately before and after sexual intercourse.
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom.
  • Wear cotton underwear and avoid staying in wet or sweaty clothing.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid waiting to use the bathroom. If you have to go, go!
Try to drink 6-8 glasses (46-64 ounces) of water a day.