Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) | Urology


Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Our urology specialists offer fast and effective treatment for UTIs so you can get back to daily life.

Medically reviewed by Marc Dall'Era, M.D. on Nov. 13, 2023.

Female health care provider showing female patient some information on a paper

What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

A UTI is a bacterial infection in your urinary tract. Your urinary tract includes your bladder, kidneys, ureters and urethra. The most common UTI occurs in your bladder (cystitis).

UTIs are often uncomfortable but easily treated by a health care provider. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body or enter your bloodstream.

Our highly trained urologists provide expert care in diagnosing and treating UTIs.


Symptoms of a UTI

The symptoms of a urinary tract infection may vary depending on where the infection develops.

Common Symptoms

Signs you may have a UTI include:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Chills or fever
  • Lower back pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Needing to urinate often
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating
  • Pelvic pain or discomfort

Emergency Symptoms

Seek immediate medical care if you experience any of the following:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • High fever
  • Severe pain
  • Shortness of breath

Causes and Risk Factors for Urinary Tract Infections

A UTI develops when bacteria enter your urinary tract and begin to multiply. UTIs are more common in women because their urethras are shorter. This makes it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder.

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of getting a UTI:


UTIs develop more often in older adults and young children.

History of UTIs

If you had a UTI in the past, your chance of developing another one increases.


Hormone changes during pregnancy can alter the bacteria in your urinary tract. Additionally, your uterus can put pressure on your bladder and prevent it from emptying when you urinate. This contributes to a UTI.


Hormone changes during and after menopause cause your vaginal tissue to become dry. This can lead to bacteria growth and an increased chance for a UTI.

Sexual Activity

Bacteria can move from your vagina to your urethra more easily during sex.

Spermicide Use

Spermicides used to prevent pregnancy can kill the “good” bacteria in your urinary tract that protect you from UTIs. This allows “bad” bacteria to grow and cause an infection.


Diagnosing UTIs

To diagnose a UTI, your provider will test your urine for bacteria. Several types of bacteria can cause a UTI. It may take a few days to determine which type of bacteria you have, and then treatment can begin.

If you have a history of recurrent UTIs, we may recommend additional tests to rule out underlying medical conditions. These tests include:

  • Cystogram: This X-ray imaging test helps us examine your entire urinary tract for issues like kidney stones.
  • Cystoscopy: During this procedure, your provider will insert a tiny tube with a camera into your urethra. The camera allows us to see if there are any problems with the lining of your urethra or bladder.

Treatments for a UTI

You should always seek care for a UTI from a medical provider. If left untreated, the infection can spread to your bloodstream and cause sepsis, a rare but life-threatening condition.

At UC Davis Health, our urologists offer the highest level of care for every urology condition. We will treat your UTI with the most effective options available. Treatment for urinary tract infections includes:

Antibiotic Medication

We will prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing your UTI. Take all of your medication as prescribed.

Vaginal Estrogen Cream

We may prescribe a vaginal estrogen cream if you develop a UTI during menopause. This can help restore the “good” bacteria in your vagina and reduce your risk of a future UTI.


Preventing a Urinary Tract Infection

It may not be possible to prevent every UTI. Adopting the following healthy habits may help protect you:

Avoid Baths

Soaking in a bath allows germs to enter your urethra. If you are prone to UTIs, you may want to shower instead.

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated helps flush your urinary tract of germs that cause UTIs.

Empty Your Bladder Before and After Sexual Activity

This will help prevent bacteria growth in your urinary tract.

Urinate When You Feel the Urge

Holding in your urine increases your risk of a UTI.

Wipe From Front to Back

Proper hygiene after using the bathroom will prevent germs from your anus or vagina from spreading to your urethra.

Women and UTIs

30XMore likely than men to get an infection


40%Of women with a UTI will have another in six months

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Urinary Tract Infections

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