A UTI (urinary tract infection) is one of those common conditions that is simply unmistakable – if you’ve had it once, you can almost always tell for yourself when you have it again. When you see a doctor for a UTI, they typically do a urine culture and sensitivity (urine C and S), which is used to diagnose UTIs and to identify the bacteria of yeast that is causing the infection.
So, what exactly causes this pesky infection? Urine travels through tubes called ureters from the kidneys to the bladder, where it is stored temporarily, and then through the urethra as you urinate. Although urine is generally sterile, sometimes bacteria (particularly, E. coli) or yeast can move from the skin outside of the urethra and travel back up to the bladder, which causes a urinary tract infection. Women are much more likely to get UTIs than men – in fact, 40 percent of women get a UTI at least once in their lives, compared to 12 percent of men. That’s because women have shorter urethras, which allow bacteria quick and easy access to the bladder. Having sex also introduces bacteria into the urinary tract, too.
Some of the most common symptoms of a UTI include:
- A strong, persistent need to urinate
- A burning sensation while urinating
- Cloudy, strong-smelling urine
- Lower back pain
- Pressure in lower abdomen
- Small amounts of blood in urine
The best way to find out if you have a UTI for sure is to head to the doctor, where you will need to provide a urine sample. The process is very simple, and only requires you to collect a small amount of clean-catch midstream urine, which will then be used for a urine culture. If the urine culture tests positive for the presence of UTI-causing bacteria, there is no need to worry. You’ll be prescribed a cycle of antibiotics that will kill the infection and have you feeling better in as little as one to two days.