Typically, you get these types of infections when bacteria that live in the vagina, genital, and anal areas enter the urethra and begin to travel and multiply in the bladder causing an infection. The most common UTIs occur in women and affect the bladder and urethra. Here are some of the ways you can get a UTI.

  • Female anatomy
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Heavy use of antibiotics can disrupt the natural flora of the bowel and urinary tract
  • Sexual activity
  • Certain types of birth control
  • Menopause
  • Urinary tract abnormalities
  • Blockages in the urinary tract
  • A suppressed immune system
  • Catheter use
  • A recent urinary procedure

To fully understand how you get a UTI, here is a short anatomy lesson where we will review the four key parts of the urinary tract.

Urinary Tract Diagram
  1. Kidneys – two bean-shaped organs which filter about a half cup of blood every minute, removing wastes and extra water to make urine.
  2. Ureters – Tubes that carry the urine from the kidneys to the bladder
  3. Bladder – A sac that stores urine, allowing urination to be controlled.
  4. Urethra – The tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.

UTIs are not just bladder infections. They can affect all or different parts of the urinary tract system.

  • Urethritis – an infection in the urethra
  • Cystitis – the correct term for an infection in the bladder
  • Ureteritis – an infection of the ureter tubes
  • Kidney infection – an infection affecting the kidneys
  • Pyelonephritis – when both the kidneys and ureters are infected
When UTIs spread to the Kidneys the situation can be life threatening


Urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and kidney infections depend on age, gender, the presence of a catheter and what part of the urinary tract has been infected.  Common symptoms of a UTI include:

  • Strong and frequent urge to urinate
  • Cloudy, bloody, or strong-smelling urine
  • Pain or a burning sensation when urinating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches and abdominal pains
  • Fever


You can take these steps to reduce your risk of urinary tract infections:

  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Drinking water helps dilute your urine and ensures that you’ll urinate more frequently — allowing bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection can begin.

To learn more about recent information on urinary tract infections, click here.

  • Drink cranberry juice. Although studies are not conclusive that cranberry juice prevents UTIs, it is likely not harmful.
  • Wipe from front to back. Doing so after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
  • Empty your bladder soon after intercourse. Also, drink a full glass of water to help flush bacteria.
  • Avoid potentially irritating feminine products. Using deodorant sprays or other feminine products, such as douches and powders, in the genital area can irritate the urethra.
  • Change your birth control method. Diaphragms, or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, can all contribute to bacterial growth.