Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Specialist
Maiden Lane Medical
Multi-Specialty Group Practice located in New York, NY
UTIs (urinary tract infections) require prompt care to prevent more serious infections from developing. Maiden Lane Medical is skilled in the latest methods for diagnosing UTIs and identifying the specific germs that cause them, so their New York City patients can receive custom treatment for faster and more effective resolution.
What is a UTI?
A UTI is a bacterial infection in your urethra and bladder. When untreated, the infection can travel to your ureters and kidneys. UTIs are common women’s health issues. Around half of women will have a UTI at some point during their lives.
What symptoms are associated with urinary tract infections?
UTIs usually cause symptoms such as:
- increased urgency to urinate
- inability to empty the bladder or pass more than a small amount of urine
- pain or burning when urinating
- urine that looks cloudy or has a pink tint
- urine that has a strong odor
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Left untreated, a UTI can spread to the kidneys where it can cause chills, fever, vomiting, and pain in the lower back.
What causes a UTI?
UTIs are extremely common, mostly affecting women. In most cases, a UTI develops when large numbers of bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply, overcoming the body’s natural immune defenses and resulting in inflammation and irritation. In a few cases, they may be caused by a virus or a fungus.
Rarely, a urinary tract infection can be caused by a defect in the structure of the urinary tract that makes it easier for bacteria to become trapped and multiply. For example, anatomical abnormalities in the bladder are potential UTI risk factors. Bladder tumors, stones, and other foreign bodies like kidney stones, surgical sutures, or catheters, can act as a nidus or “sanctuary space” for bacteria.
Additionally, some women have “stickier” bacterial receptors on the urothelium (bladder lining). This means that bacteria have an easier time attaching and holding on to the bladder lining, even if you’re hydrated, urinate regularly, and practice excellent genital hygiene. The stickiness of bacterial receptors tends to wax and wane throughout your life. This could be due to fluctuating hormone levels. Women tend to be more prone to UTIs in their 20s and then post-menopause.
Other factors that contribute to your risk of UTIs
Wiping from back to front
Wiping from back to front essentially pushes bacteria from the anal/rectal area into the vagina and the urethral opening. The closer the urethral meatus is to the interior of the vaginal vault, the greater the risk of infection in general. The bigger the distance between the urethra and vagina lessens the risk of UTI from any cause. Of course, this is anatomical and cannot be changed. Women with the greatest risk of UTIs have what are called “urogenital sinuses,” where the urethral opening is just inside the vaginal opening.
Sex is the most significant UTI risk factor for younger sexually active women. Bacteria find their way from the anal/rectal vault to the vagina. The act of intercourse literally pushes bacteria from the vaginal vault into the urethra. You can counteract this risk by urinating after sex to flush your urethra.
Constipation or diarrhea
Messy stools, increased straining, and flatus can increase the number of bacteria in your anal/rectal area. Poor wiping or genital hygiene can increase the risk of that bacteria spreading to your urethra.
Uncontrolled diabetes can increase your risk of UTIs in several ways. First, the disease can diminish your circulation and damage your bladder nerves, resulting in loss of bladder contractability and urinary retention.
Diabetes is also immunosuppressive, which interferes with your natural immune response to bacteria. Uncontrolled diabetes also increases the amount of sugar in your urine, which provides a perfect growth media for bacteria.
Drinking plenty of water helps you generate a urine stream and flush out bacteria along with other liquid waste products.
Holding on to your urine
Waiting too long to urinate urinary retention is a significant UTI risk. The longer the bacteria have to replicate and penetrate into the bladder wall, the less likely one is to rid themselves of the infection when they finally do void. Additionally, overfilling the bladder makes it less efficient when it contracts, leaving a “post-void residual” which can act as a “cesspool” of bacteria remaining in the bladder
Using certain types of birth control, like a diaphragm, can compress the urethra and potentially interfere with the complete emptying of the bladder after sex. Diaphragms are not recommended for women who get recurrent post-coital infections
Public hair and panties
Ideally, you should keep your genital area clean. Certain types of underwear, like spandex, nylon, or thong panties, can increase the chances of bacteria reaching your urethra. Additionally, while pubic hair isn’t a bad thing, it can trap bacteria, which could then spread to your urethra during sexual activity. We recommend breathable cotton underwear and keeping your pubic hair trimmed.
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How will my UTI be treated?
Most UTIs can be treated with antibiotics. It’s important to take the full course of antibiotics even if you’ve begun to feel better. If the infection is caused by a structural defect or another underlying issue, other types of treatment may be needed to clear the infection and prevent it from recurring.
How can I prevent a UTI from occurring?
Drinking lots of fluids every day is the best way to keep your urinary tract healthy and flush out potentially harmful germs. It is also a good idea to urinate after having sex. You should also:
- Always wipe from front to back
- Keep your genitals clean
- Don’t wear tight underwear
- Don’t wear sweaty gym clothes or wet bathing suits for longer than necessary
Also — be sure to have an exam at the first sign of symptoms and get treatment as early as possible.
If you have painful urination or find blood in your urine, make an appointment right away.
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