Medically reviewed on May 19, 2023 by Karen Janson, MS, MD. 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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UTIs, or urinary tract infections, are one of the most common infections facing people assigned female at birth. In fact, as many as 40-60% of people in this demographic will contract a UTI at some point in their lives (though their prevalence doesn’t make them any less important to deal with). 
Moreover, it’s quite common to experience a UTI recurrence. Approximately 50% of women who’ve had one UTI will develop another within a year of their initial infection.  So, if you’ve been asking yourself, Why do I keep getting UTIs, know you’re not alone.
Understanding what causes UTIs and how to prevent them is an important part of caring for your urinary, reproductive, and overall health. Let’s explore more below.
Recurrent UTIs: Causes and Symptoms
UTIs are most commonly caused by bacteria—usually E. coli bacteria.  E. coli is an organism that’s often found in the colon and can easily be passed from the anus to the urethra, and then to the bladder. 
UTIs are commonly associated with symptoms like pain or burning with urination, the urge to urinate more frequently, lower abdominal discomfort, and cloudy or blood-tinged urine. 
Recurrent UTIs: Contributing Factors
Several factors elevate one’s risk of developing a recurrent urinary tract infection. These include:
- Female reproductive anatomy – a href="https://www.everlywell.com/blog/virtual-care/can-men-get-a-uti">Can men get a UTI? Both people assigned female at birth (AFAB) and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) can contract a UTI, but infections are more common in the former group.  AFAB people have anatomical differences that make urinary infection more likely:
- In female anatomy, the urethra is located closer to the anus, where bacteria like E. Coli are more prevalent. 
- The female urethra is shorter than the male urethra. This makes it easier for the bacteria to travel up to the bladder. 
- Pregnancy – Wondering about a UTI during pregnancy? UTIs are more common in people who are pregnant.  Anatomical changes in pregnancy, like an expanding uterus, can compress the bladder and ureters and intermittently impede normal urine flow. Hormonal changes in prenancy, like elevated levels of progesterone, can relax and widen the ureters, making it easier for bacteria to ascend and create a UTI.  Pregnancy also suppresses immune function, which may increase susceptibility to infections and UTI symptoms.
- Sexual activity – Having sex can promote the transmission of bacteria from the peri-anal region towards the urethra. 
- Urine retention or stagnation – When urine is not allowed to exit the body, it can elevate the likelihood of an infection.  This may be caused by voluntary behaviors, like waiting too long to go to the bathroom, or involuntary factors, like obstructions in the urinary tract from kidney stones or an enlarged prostate. 
- Preexisting health conditions – Certain illnesses, like diabetes or immune disorders, may also depress the body’s natural defenses. This can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection-causing bacteria. 
- Nerve damage – Structural abnormalities or injuries to the nerves supplying the bladder or spinal cord can make some individuals more susceptible to UTIs. For instance, decreased nerve function can make it more difficult to empty the bladder completely, increasing the likelihood of urine retention and bacterial colonization. 
- Using a catheter – Urine catheters are commonly used in birthing, hospital, or home-care settings to help people empty their bladders if they can’t do so independently. However, one common adverse effect of using a catheter is the possibility of introducing a bacteria into the body, elevating the likelihood of a UTI. 
Recurrent UTIs: Treatment
A solitary UTI is often treated with a course of antibiotic. Your healthcare provider may offer an antibiotic as a single dose or as multiple doses over several days to a week.
However, if you keep getting UTIs, your healthcare provider may diagnose you with recurrent UTIs. In this case, you may need to have additional testing to ascertain why they’re recurring. 
Recurrent UTIs may be treated through suppressive antibiotic therapy. This modality uses small, daily amounts of antibiotics to help your body ward off infection. 
Antibiotics commonly used to treat UTIs include: 
Certain life circumstances may mean you’ll require supplementary therapies to quell recurring UTIs. For instance, if you’re going through menopause, your healthcare provider may recommend topical vaginal estrogen therapy. 
Tips for Preventing UTIs
Sometimes, lowering your chance of UTI recurrence is a simple matter of taking greater care to protect your urinary health. The following methods may help reduce your risk of future UTIs: 
- Drinking plenty of water to help flush bacteria from the urinary tract
- Avoid delaying trips to the bathroom
- Using a “front to back” wiping motion when using the restroom
- Empty the bladder before and after having sex
- Swapping out your diaphragm or spermicide for another birth control method
Stay Informed About Your Well-Being with Everlywell
If you’re experiencing recurrent UTIs, discover the cause and most effective course of treatment with help from Everlywell. Our telehealth services make consulting with a healthcare provider fast, easy, and convenient. We accept most major insurance plans and also offer cash payment options starting at just $59.
If needed, a licensed clinicians may recommend online UTI treatment to help address your symptoms.
Take control of your health and well-being by scheduling your Everlywell virtual care visit today.
How to Prevent UTIs
Can a UTI Be Transmitted Through Sex?
Can Men Get a UTI?
- What causes UTIs & UI? US Department of Health and Human Services. URL. Accessed May 11, 2023.
- Urinary Tract Infection. StatPearls [Internet]. URL. November 28, 2022. Accessed May 11, 2023.
- Habak, PJ, Griggs, RP Jr. Urinary Tract Infection in Pregnancy. National Library of Medicine. URL. July 5, 2022. Accessed May 11, 2023.
- Urinary tract infections. Office on Women’s Health. URL. Accessed May 11, 2023.
- Urinary tract infection (UTI). Mayo Clinic. Accessed May 11, 2023. URL.