Understanding Urinary Health: What Causes Recurring UTIs?

Infections of the urinary tract, or UTIs, affect approximately three percent of men and 50-60% of women. Due to the length of the urethra, women are more likely than men to experience a UTI during their lifetime. As well as gender, there can be a number of factors that contribute to UTIs, and different variables that determine what causes recurring UTIs. To diagnose and treat a UTI promptly, it is important to recognize the symptoms and understand what it is.

Continue reading to understand what causes recurring UTIs, and the various methods of treatment.

What is a UTI?

The first step to understanding the specific causes of UTIs is to first understand what a UTI actually is. Infections of the urinary tract can result from the presence of bacteria in the urethra, or from improper bladder emptying. Typically, a mild UTI causes irritation and discomfort when urinating. However, if left untreated, the infection may spread to the bladder and even kidneys, causing lasting damage. So, what are the symptoms of a UTI? 

Symptoms of Chronic Urinary Tract Infections

UTIs occur in two different areas of the urinary tract. If your doctor diagnoses you with an upper UTI, then the infection is in your kidneys (Pyelonephritis) and ureters. This can cause nausea, chills, fever, as well as pain in the flanks and abdomen. When bacteria is present, the kidneys struggle to filter out waste in the blood — causing you to feel pain in your lower back where the kidneys are located. 

A lower UTI occurs in the urethra (Urethritis) and bladder (Cystitis), and is the most common place for a UTI to form. This type of infection causes bacteria to grow and move up the urinary tract — causing cloudy or bloody urine as well as lower abdominal pain

A UTI may present with a number of symptoms, including the following:

  • The sensation of burning when you urinate
  • The desire to urinate frequently or intensely, even though little is produced
  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine
  • Feeling fatigued or shaky
  • The presence of fever or chills (indicating that the infection has reached the kidneys)
  • Back or lower abdominal pain or pressure
  • Rectal pain (specifically in men)

Let’s explore what causes recurring UTIs now that you have an understanding of what a UTI is.

What Causes Recurring UTIs?

1. Lifestyle choices

Certain lifestyle choices can be the reason you are experiencing recurring UTIs. For example, consistent sexual activity can push harmful bacteria up the urethra — causing UTI symptoms. If this activity is frequent or with a new partner it can increase the risk of recurrence. Additionally, living an excessive active lifestyle can also be a contributing factor to a recurring UTI. Believe it or not, the sweat and heat secreted from the body when working out is a breeding ground for bacteria, as moisture allows for bacteria to multiply at a faster rate.

Related: 13 Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection 

2. Gender

The main reason why women are more susceptible to UTIs is because of the structure of their urinary tract. The location of the urethra to the bladder allows for bacteria to travel up the short urethra tube at a faster pace than males. Women who treat UTIs with antibiotics are more prone to recurrent UTIs, as the medication can deplete good bacteria in the urethra. 

For men, UTIs are in relation to an enlarged prostate. This condition causes men to not empty their urinary tract as often as needed which causes bacteria to grow in the urethra However, It may take longer for an infection to occur because of the distance of the urethra to the male bladder. 

3. Menopause

Hormonal changes are also a major cause of frequent UTIs. Menopause is a time in an older persons life where the menstrual cycle ends. Estrogen and Progesterone production decreases during this time which can thin the lining of your vagina. These hormonal changes increase bacteria production in the urinary tract system. In the past year, 10% of postmenopausal women have stated that they have contracted a UTI.  

Preventative Methods

There are preventative measures you can take to avoid a UTI. Making sure you are drinking plenty of fluids is a great way to decrease bacteria in your bladder. Fluid balance is important, as it flushes bacteria out of the urinary tract system. Another way to prevent a UTI is to not wear tight clothing. Ill-fitting clothing can cause moisture to accumulate in the urethra. Maintaining your personal hygiene is also a great way to limit UTIs. Making sure you are dry and clean in all areas will decrease the rate at which bacteria can grow. 

Treat Your Recurring UTIs at USOC

Frequent UTIs can be painful and irritating. However, understanding what causes recurring UTIs is the first step you should take to get treatment. We hope this blog has helped you in learning about this bacterial infection. If you are experiencing recurring UTIs do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of our qualified urologists today.

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