Women's Health Resources

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

An infection involving the urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys is called a urinary tract infection (UTI). These infections occur more frequently in women, due to their shorter urethra and the urethral opening being close to the vagina and rectum. Intestinal bacteria present in these locations can easily contaminate the urethra during or after sexual intercourse or when wiping incorrectly after a bowel movement or urination. Men who develop urinary tract infections often have an underlying abnormality, such as prostate disease or enlargement, obstruction from tumors or developmental abnormalities.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Painful and/or frequent urination
  • Urgency to urinate
  • Back or flank pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Fatigue or malaise
  • Cloudy or bloody urine, possibly with an abnormal odor

What your doctor can do:

  • Diagnose a UTI by asking about your symptoms, doing a physical exam, and laboratory tests.
  • Obtain a urine sample for analysis and culture.
  • Prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection.

What you can do:

  • Rest as much as possible, until pain and fever are gone.
  • Avoid sexual activity until the infection is eliminated.
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water and cranberry juice. Cranberry juice helps resolve infections.
  • Follow-up with your physician as instructed; additional urine testing is often needed.


  • Avoid holding urine when there is an urge to urinate
  • Drink plenty of fluids each day
  • Always wipe from front to back after urinating and especially after bowel movements
  • Avoiding sexual positions that are painful or irritating to your urethra or bladder
  • Urinate before and especially after sexual intercourse

Contact your doctor if your symptoms and fever continue longer than 48 hours after beginning antibiotics, return after completing the antibiotics, or if new/unexplained symptoms develop.