If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, then you know the excruciating pain it can cause. This pain can not only affect your physical health but your mental health as well. In fact, a 2017 review of studies found that people with urinary tract conditions (like a UTI) experience higher levels of psychological stress, which can worsen symptoms.
Though mild bladder infections may go away on their own, most do not. Seek urgent medical care if symptoms persist for more than 24-48 hours.
A bladder infection is an infection in any part of the urinary system, the kidneys, bladder or urethra. While bladder infections are 14 times more frequent in women, men may also suffer from UTIs and symptoms like pelvic pain, an increased urge to urinate, burning pain with urination and blood in the urine.
While you may be familiar with the painful symptoms associated with these infections, you may not know what’s causing them. If you understand common urinary infection causes, you will be in a better position to prevent them.
Urinary tract infection causes
Urinary tract infections typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra, travel into the bladder and begin to multiply. Common bladder infection causes include:
- Infection of the bladder (cystitis)
This type of infection is usually caused by Escherichia coli (E.coli), a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, other bacteria are sometimes responsible. To reduce your risk of this type of infection, be sure to wipe front to back (women), drink plenty of fluids, avoid holding your urine, urinate before and after intercourse, avoid scented products and take probiotics that contain cranberry. Also, be sure to change your pad or panty liner every 3-5 hours.
- Infection of the urethra (urethritis)
This type of infection occurs when GI bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra. Because the urethra is in close proximity to the vagina, sexually transmitted infections like herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and mycoplasma can also cause urethritis.
Bladder infection risk factors for women
Urinary tract infections are common in women, and, unfortunately, many women experience more than one during their lifetime. Risk factors specific to women for UTIs include:
- Female anatomy
Women have shorter urethras than men, so the distance bacteria need to travel to reach the bladder is much less.
- Sexual activity
Sexually active women tend to have more UTIs than women who are not sexually active. New sexual partners may also increase your risk.
- Certain types of birth control or feminine hygiene products
Women who use diaphragms and menstrual cups may have a higher risk of UTI, as well as those who use spermicidal agents.
Women in menopause are naturally producing less estrogen, which can lead to changes in the urinary tract that make them more vulnerable to infection.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a bladder infection, visit Oxford Urgent Care as soon as possible to get the treatment you need to start feeling like yourself again fast. We can also help you identify possible urinary tract infection causes so you can prevent repeat infections in the future. We welcome walk-in appointments 7 days a week from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.