UTIs in women

Who is most likely to get a UTI?

UTIs are more common in women and there are several reasons for this including:

  • Female anatomy – the urethra (the tube through which urine travels from the bladder to the outside of the body) in women is short and straight (only about 4 cm long), which makes it easier for bacteria to travel along it and up into the bladder
  • Hormones – some women find that their UTIs are linked to times of hormonal change such as before their periods or after menopause
  • Certain types of birth control – using a diaphragm or spermicide may also increase the likelihood of UTIs.

UTIs are usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However sometimes other bacteria are responsible for the infection. If E. coli are transferred from the rectum to the urethra, they can enter the urethra and infect the bladder.

Possible Risk Factors

There are certain risk factors that may mean some women are more likely to get repeat (recurrent) UTIs, including:

  • History of childhood UTIs
  • A family history of recurrent UTIs
  • Sexual activity and a new sexual partner
  • Using spermicides or a diaphragm as a means of contraception
  • Menopause
  • Suffering from constipation.


UTI symptoms in women

UTI symptoms are similar in both women and men and include frequent urination, the feeling of wanting to urinate urgently, burning or scalding sensations when urinating, and cloudy, bloody or smelly urine.

Talk to your health
professional if you
have symptoms
of a UTI

prevention of UTIs

The following are some self-help suggestions that may help you prevent UTIs:

  • Drink plenty of water (and other fluids) to help flush bacteria out of your urinary system
  • Urinate after sexual intercourse
  • Treat any vaginal infections, like thrush, quickly
  • Avoid using spermicide containing contraceptive products
  • Don’t delay going to the toilet. Don’t hold on. Go as soon as you feel the urge to urinate
  • Wipe yourself from front to back (urethra to anus) after going to the toilet
  • Avoid constipation