What Causes UTIs?

Written by HeyDoctor Medical Team

Here are some of the common causes of urinary tract infections (UTI).

Anyone can get a UTI, but they’re most common in women aged 16 to 35. Most UTIs (80-90%) are caused when E. coli, (the bacteria found in feces and in the digestive tracts of humans and animals) enters the urinary tract through the urethra where they begin to multiply.

Things that can increase your risk for a UTI include:

  • Having female anatomy - someone with female anatomy has a shorter urethra, making it easier for an infection to reach the bladder. On top of that, the urethral opening is closer to the anus on the female body than on a male body.
  • Sexual Activity - UTIs are not considered sexually transmitted infections, but being sexually active does increase your risk of getting one.
  • Using certain kinds of birth control - people who use diaphragms or certain spermicidal creams may be at a higher risk for UTIs.
  • Menopause or pregnancy
  • Having compromised immune system - individuals with certain conditions like AIDS or diabetes may be more susceptible to UTIs.
  • Catheter use

How do I prevent UTI’s in the future?

  • Wipe from front to back, and keep your genital area clean. But stay away from douches and feminine hygiene sprays, which only cause irritation. Avoid tight-fitting or synthetic underwear or pants, which trap moisture and encourage bacterial growth.
  • Stay hydrated and urinate whenever you feel the need to go. This will help keep things moving through your urinary tract and prevent bacteria from latching on and spreading. Some people drink cranberry juice to stave off a UTI, but the evidence for the efficacy of this is slim.
  • Clean up before sex to prevent any lingering bacteria from getting pushed towards your urethra. Remember that most UTI’s are caused by the bacteria that’s found in the rectum and anus, so keep sexual activity there separate from your urethra! Urinating after sex can help flush out any lingering bacteria.
  • If you use a diaphragm or spermicidal jelly and get UTI’s frequently, consider switching birth control methods as these increase your risk for getting a UTI. And don’t be afraid to use lubricant or lubricated condoms during sex, as excess friction can irritate your urethra, making you more susceptible to infection.
The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HeyDoctor, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Check out the HeyDoctor app

With over 1,000 5-star reviews, we're one of the highest rated medical apps. See for yourself!