Written on January 30, 2023 by Gillian Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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The Mayo Clinic characterizes urinary tract infections (UTIs) as “an infection in any part of the urinary system.” The urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra . The most common type of UTI is a bladder infection, says the CDC, also known as cystitis .
Generally speaking, UTIs aren’t usually dangerous and are common. Unfortunately, they are quite uncomfortable/painful and require immediate medical attention to prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys (pyelonephritis).
Symptoms can vary from person to person, but below are symptoms provided by the CDC for both bladder and kidney infections.
Symptoms of a bladder infection:
Symptoms of a kidney infection:
Most UTIs result from Escherichia coli (E. coli) making their way into the urinary tract via the urethra, which leads to the bladder. E. coli is a naturally found bacteria in the body (normally in the gut) — issues arise when that bacterium travels to other parts of the body. Other microbes that can lead to UTIs are Staphylococcus saprophyticus (a type of staph infection) and Klebsiella pneumoniae (a bacteria usually associated with pneumonia).
The following are risk factors for UTIs :
If you have had a UTI in the past, you are more likely to have another one in the future. This is because the bacteria that cause UTIs can remain in the urinary tract and can cause recurrent infections.
Females “get UTIs up to 30 times more often than [males] do… because a [female]’s urethra (the tube from the bladder to where the urine comes out of the body) is shorter than a [male]’s.” 
Sexual activity can introduce bacteria into the urethra.
The Mayo Clinic says, “Using diaphragms for birth control may increase the risk of UTIs. Using spermicidal agents also can increase risk” .
Following menopause, “a decline in circulating estrogen causes changes in the urinary tract. The changes can increase the risk of UTIs” .
This includes anatomical abnormalities that you can be born with. Also, backed-up urine can lead to infection. Blockages could include kidney stones or an enlarged prostate, both of which can “trap” urine in the bladder .
Conditions such as diabetes can weaken the immune system, which is responsible for protecting against harmful bacteria, thereby increasing the likelihood of urinary tract infections.
Individuals who are unable to urinate independently may resort to using a tube known as a catheter. However, this method increases the chance of urinary tract infections. Catheters are commonly used in hospitals and by those who have neurological issues that impede their ability to control urination or are paralyzed .
“Urinary surgery or an exam of your urinary tract that involves medical instruments can both increase the risk of developing a UTI” .
The Mayo Clinic and CDC make the following recommendations to prevent UTIs [1,2]:
Antibiotics for UTIs require a prescription, and thus, must be obtained through a healthcare provider. However, it is not necessary to visit a doctor’s office or leave your home to obtain a prescription.
Everlywell offers telehealth appointments where you can schedule an appointment for potential UTI treatment online with a healthcare provider who can diagnose and prescribe antibiotics if needed. The prescription will be sent to your local pharmacy. This telehealth option is both convenient and private, and there is no waiting time for care or treatment. Appointments can be as low as $10, and even without insurance, the cost is less than $60.
Telehealth with Everlywell is as easy as 1, 2, 3: