Do I Have A UTI?

It might be alarming if suddenly it burns when you pee or your pee is cloudy.

Other symptoms like the urge to pee that doesn’t go away could point to a urinary tract infection. Does this sound familiar? Are you wondering: Do I have a UTI? 

Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

A urinary tract infection—commonly referred to as a UTI—is an infection in any part of your urinary system. That can include your kidneys, bladder, ureters (which connect the kidneys and bladder) and urethra (the tube that takes urine from your bladder out of your body.)

Most infections involve the bladder and the urethra. In this instance, the infection is painful and annoying. It’s cause for concern, however, if the infection spreads to your kidneys. That can lead to serious health problems.1

What Causes a UTI?

The most common cause of a UTI is when bacteria enters your urinary tract through the urethra and spreads to the bladder. Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than are men. That’s partly due to our anatomy.  

In women, the urethra is close to the anus, and the urethral opening is close to the bladder. This makes it easier for bacteria around the anus to enter the urethra and travel to the bladder, such as when you wipe from back to front after going to the bathroom.

Women can also get sexually transmitted infections, or by having sex—but you don’t have to be sexually active to develop a UTI.1

Do I Have A UTI?

While some women can have a UTI without symptoms, here are some of the signs you may have a UTI—which is essentially inflammation in the lining of your urinary tract:2

  • pain when you pee
  • blood in your pee
  • pressure in the lower part of your pelvis, or pain in your flank, abdomen, pelvic area or lower back
  • cloudy, foul-smelling pee
  • urinary incontinence, which is when you leak urine
  • frequent urination
  • urge incontinence, which is a frequent urge to pee
  • fever, chills, nausea or vomiting, and/or mental confusion—all of which are serious and a signal for you to seek immediate medical attention

Besides the female anatomy, there are other risk factors to develop a UTI:3

  • a previous UTI
  • sexual activity
  • changes in the bacteria that live inside the vagina, such as during menopause, or by using spermicides can cause bacterial changes
  • pregnancy
  • age—older adults and young children are more likely to get UTIs

What Do I Do About My UTI?

If you suspect you have a UTI, it’s worth seeing a healthcare provider rather than hoping it will go away on its own. In particular, if you have a fever, chills, or nausea and vomiting, you need medical attention.

A doctor will perform a urinalysis or urine culture to check if you have a UTI. Antibiotics are the common treatment for a UTI. If treatment doesn’t help, then your doctor may proceed with an ultrasound or CT scan to further check your urinary tract for issues.2

How Can I Prevent a UTI?

There are also some steps you can take to prevent getting a UTI, or prevent getting another UTI.

Here are some lifestyle modifications to try.2

1. Good Hygiene Practices: This is one of the best ways to prevent UTIs. Excellent hygiene means always wiping from front to back after a bowel movement, and regularly changing products like pads and tampons during your periods. It’s also a good idea to avoid using deodorants on your vagina.

2. Good Peeing Habits: By this we mean peeing frequently, which can help reduce risk of infection by getting rid of bacteria from your body. Your pee removes waste from your body every time you empty your bladder. Another good habit is to pee right before and right after having sex, since sex can introduce bacteria to your urethra. 

3. Drink Plenty of Fluids: In particular, drinking plenty of water every day will help flush out bacteria.

4. Change Birth Control and/or Sex Lubricants: A diaphragm, spermicides and lubricants that are not water-based can all increase the chance of developing a UTI.

All About Recurring UTIs

See A Doctor 

While a minor urinary tract infection may get better on its own, most require antibiotics to completely clear up. If you suspect you have a UTI, it’s worth seeing a health care provider. If you have a fever, chills, and/or nausea and vomiting, seek immediate medical attention.2 Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health who can help with your current and any subsequent UTIs. You can also seek guidance on other women’s pelvic health issues, like pelvic floor muscles exercises. You can use a tool like the INNOVO Urinary Incontinence Kit, which helps you perform 180 perfect Kegels in 30 minutes. Subscribe to the INNOVO newsletter to receive a $20 discount code for your purchase.