If you continue to be plagued by urinary tract infections, you’re likely wondering why do I keep getting UTIs?
These annoying infections are common enough that nearly one in every two women will experience at least one UTI in her lifetime.1
But there are those women who suffer from recurring UTIs, which is defined as two or more in a six-month period, or three or more within the preceding year.2
Whether you fit into that medical definition or you just seem to be continually battling a UTI, let’s look at some answers to the question: why do I keep getting UTIs?
What Causes UTIs?
A UTI is when any part of your urinary system suffers from an infection. The most common form of UTI affects your lower urinary tract, or the bladder and the urethra, but a UTI can also impact your kidneys and ureters.3
UTIs are usually caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract through the urethra and then multiplying in the bladder. One example is when the bacteria in stool enters the urethra, such as when you incorrectly wipe back to front after going to the bathroom. Although the urinary system is designed to keep bacteria out, those defenses sometimes fail and the bacteria causes infection.3
Another behavior which can increase risk of developing a UTI is holding urine for a long time.4 There are other factors that can increase risk, but the fact remains that the female anatomy just makes us more prone to UTIs. Women have a shorter urethra than men, which shortens the distance that bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.3 The urethra is also close to the vagina and anus, meaning bacteria can easily reach it.5
Why Do I Keep Getting UTIs?
There are different reasons that women get UTIs, and risk factors change as we age.
Before menopause, the most common risk factors are sexual intercourse and use of spermicides, because it’s believed that sex increases the number of bacteria in the bladder. As a result, some doctors advise women to urinate after sex.6
After menopause, changes to our body have an impact. The good bacteria in the vagina declines, and the bladder doesn’t empty as easily.6 There are also pH changes in the vagina in post-menopausal women, which can also make us more prone to infection.5
Also, some medical conditions, such as bladder prolapse, makes it difficult to fully empty the bladder, and urine that stays in the bladder which can also lead to bacteria growth.5
But having recurrent UTIs is not your fault. It’s not because of poor hygiene, for instance, or something else you have done.6
“Some women are just prone to UTIs,” says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Kalpana Gupta of Harvard Medical School.6 And there is a chance that bacteria has become resistant to an antibiotic over time, and may not be as effective in treating subsequent infections.6
How Can I Prevent UTIs?
There are some steps you can take to try to prevent UTIs.
Here are some suggestions:
- Drink plenty of fluids every day.6
- Empty your bladder immediately following sexual intercourse.6
- Wipe front to back after going to the bathroom.6
- Don’t wait to pee, as holding urine for a long time has proven to be an important risk factor.4
- Although it isn’t conclusive, some suggest drinking cranberry juice.3
- Avoid possible irritating feminine products in the genital area, like deodorant sprays, douches and powders.3
- Avoid birth control like diaphragms, or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, which can contribute to bacterial growth.3
See A Doctor
If you seem to be suffering from recurring UTIs, see your doctor to receive treatment and advice about the frequency of your infections. When caught early, UTIs are a common condition that can easily be treated.
Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you and seek treatment for your recurring UTIs. Alternative treatments may help deal with recurrences.