50% of all women will get at least one urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime.1 Since UTIs are such a common infection, doctors receive many questions about what they are, how to treat them, and how to prevent them. This is especially true for women who get recurrent UTIs.
To answer your most common questions about UTIs, including about recurrent UTIs, we spoke with fellowship trained female urologist Dr. Samir Derisavifard of USMD Urology in Dallas-Fort Worth. Let’s briefly explore UTIs, and then we’ll jump into your questions!
What Is A UTI?
A UTI is an infection in the urethra that spreads throughout your urinary tract. These infections are more common in women than men. They typically stay in the lower urinary tract (ie.: in your bladder and urethra), but when they spread to your kidneys they can leave permanent damage. Thankfully, UTIs are usually easy to treat with antibiotics.
What Are UTI Symptoms?
UTIs don’t always have symptoms, especially in older women. That said, you may notice changes in your urination frequency, volume and color. Having strong urges to pee, having to pee a lot in small amounts, pelvic pain and a burning sensation when peeing can all be symptoms. Your urine may also be cloudy, it can be red, pink or brown, and it may have a potent smell.
To learn more about the symptoms and risks of getting a UTI, please see here. Now, let’s get to Dr. Derisavifard’s UTI FAQs!
What is a recurrent UTI?
This means you have two UTIs within a 6 month period, or three within a full calendar year.
Are UTIs contagious?
Urinary tract infections are not contagious – you cannot pass a UTI from one patient to the next.
Will UTIs go away on their own?
Yes. Antibiotics only reduce the amount of time you have an active infection, but most healthy patients can clear a UTI on their own.
That said, treating UTIs promptly is important to prevent serious complications. Ignoring symptoms and leaving them untreated can lead to serious consequences such as permanent kidney damage or sepsis (blood poisoning), which can be life threatening.2
Can UTI symptoms be something other than a UTI?
Absolutely yes. Depending on your age, menopause status, and general health, there are a number of conditions that may look like UTIs. That’s why it’s important to partner with a pelvic health expert that can sort these out with a thorough history and physical examination, to get to the root cause of your symptoms.
How can we stop recurrent UTIs from coming back?
Patients can get on a non-antibiotic-based preventative regimen, to minimize their risk of frequent UTIs coming back. This would again involve partnering with a pelvic health expert to make sure we’re tailoring everything specifically to you.