Recurrent UTIs

A young woman holding her belly due to pain from a urinary tract infection.Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common; they occur when bacteria enters and infects the urinary tract, leading to symptoms such as painful, frequent, and/or bloody urination. In most cases, a UTI can be cleared up quickly using antibiotics; however, for some people, UTIs may become a frequent occurrence.

A person is considered to have recurrent UTIs if they have developed three UTIs within a 12-month period or two within a six-month period. UTIs can return frequently for a few potential reasons, including:

Urinary tract abnormalities: If there is a structural problem with your urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate, it can be easier for you to develop a UTI.

Bladder dysfunction: UTIs are more likely to occur and return quickly in people who have difficulty fully emptying their bladder when they urinate.

Age: Older adults face an increased risk of developing frequent UTIs. This is partially due to an increased likelihood of developing other chronic conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, or dementia, all of which can lead to bladder control problems. UTIs are also more likely to occur in potty-training children.

Changes in vaginal bacteria: Changes such as menopause or the use of spermicides can cause changes in the bacteria that live inside the vagina. These changes make UTIs more likely to occur, even after successful treatment.

While it’s important for everyone to practice healthy habits that can prevent UTIs, it’s especially important for people who are more likely to develop them. Some habits that can help protect you against UTIs include:

  • Practicing good hygiene, such as wiping front to back after using the toilet, washing the outer genital area with a gentle soap, and urinating after sex
  • Drinking plenty of water to flush bacteria from the bladder
  • Potentially switching to a birth control method that does not include spermicide

If you experience frequent UTIs, it’s also important that you talk to a doctor to find an effective course of preventative treatment. You can schedule an appointment with a urologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center by calling (718) 206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.