Did you know our parent organization, Brookside Women’s Medical Center, has provided gynecology services in the Austin area for over 40 years? In addition to providing pap, pregnancy, and STI testing, we also diagnose and treat urinary tract infections (UTIs)!
UTIs are common in women, and they range from uncomfortable to dangerous. It’s important to learn the signs and to know what you can do to help prevent them!
What is a UTI?
The urinary tract makes, stores, and removes urine from our body. Any of the parts of the urinary tract— such as the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys — may be involved in a urinary tract infection.
An infection in any part of the urinary tract system — but most commonly the bladder and the urethra — is considered a UTI. Women who are sexually active have a higher risk of developing UTIs, and they can lead to serious consequences if it reaches the kidneys. So if you think you might have one, it’s important to not go too long without seeking treatment!
Most Common Types of UTIs
The two most common urinary tract infections affect the bladder and urethra.
An infection of the bladder is called cystitis, and it’s usually caused by the bacteria known as E.coli or Escherichia coli.
An infection of the urethra is called urethritis, and this type of infection occurs when bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract spread from the anus to the urethra. Sexually transmitted infections can also cause urethritis because the urethra is close to the vagina.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
Depending on where the infection is located, symptoms can vary. While it’s possible to have a UTI without realizing it, most people have one or more of the following symptoms:
- An infection of the bladder may present with pelvic pressure, lower abdominal pain, painful and frequent urination, as well as the presence of blood in the urine.
- An infection of the urethra may present with a burning sensation when urinating, as well as vaginal discharge
- An infection that’s reached the kidneys, also known as pyelonephritis, may present with a high fever, upper back and side pain, nausea and vomiting, and chills.
How are UTIs diagnosed and treated?
To determine what type of UTI you may have, you’ll be asked to provide a urine sample so the doctor can know what bacteria is causing the infection — and what medication is best to treat it! Most UTIs (without complications) are treated with the use of at-home antibiotics over the course of a few weeks or less. Many people feel better in a few days, but it’s important that you take all of your medicine for as long as it was prescribed for — because if you stop taking it too soon, the bacteria can return and make the infection even worse.
Sometimes infections become severe, and in those cases, you may need to seek care in a hospital to receive antibiotics intravenously.
If you have frequent UTIs, alternative options may be possible. Speak with the doctor at your visit if this is something you experience! There are home tests for UTIs which can help you catch the infection earlier, and your doctor might give you a supply of antibiotics to have on hand. Find out what works for you.
How To Ease UTI Pain
Once you are diagnosed, you can take phenazopyridine hydrochloride (brand name AZO) for UTI related pain. Although it is available over the counter, it is important to get a prescription for antibiotics for UTI treatment from your doctor, because AZO will not cure the infection.
You’ll also want to drink lots of water! Water flushes the bacteria from your body and dilutes your urine. One Mayo Clinic urogynecology physician assistant even says that 50% of UTIs can be treated with drinking significant amounts of water. And a study performed by JAMA showed that women who increased their fluid intake were also at less risk of developing a UTI in the future.
If necessary, you may also be prescribed an analgesic that will numb your bladder and urethra to alleviate pain during urination.
How can I prevent myself from getting a UTI ?
The Mayo Clinic suggests the following to prevent a urinary tract infection:
- Wiping front to back after using the bathroom
- Urinating as soon as you feel the need
- Emptying your bladder soon after intercourse
- Avoiding birth control methods like the diaphragm or unlubricated (and spermicide-treated) condoms — which can influence the growth of bacteria
- Don’t use feminine products that may irritate the urethra, such as deodorant sprays, powders, or douches
- Keep your genital area dry by using cotton underwear
- Drinking cranberry juice isn’t a proven way to prevent UTIs, but some studies have shown it may help by keeping bacteria from multiplying in the urinary tract
UTI During Pregnancy
According to Healthline, UTIs are common during pregnancy and about 2-10% of pregnant people experience them. This is because the developing pregnancy can put pressure on your bladder and urinary tract; trapping bacteria. The urethra also expands during pregnancy, and “along with increased bladder volume and decreased bladder tone,” urine becomes more still in the urethra and allows bacteria to grow.
And because urine during pregnancy is more concentrated and contains hormones and sugar, this can also influence the growth of bacteria!
While UTIs are generally easily treatable, any infection during pregnancy can increase the risk of pre-term labor. So if you think you might be pregnant and are experiencing signs of a UTI, see us to take a free pregnancy test and schedule a visit for UTI treatment with one of our doctors.
Treatment for UTIs during pregnancy are the same as when not pregnant, so you can expect to be prescribed pregnancy-safe antibiotics. Remedies to relieve UTI symptoms and prevent them in the future are also the same, but always consult a doctor before taking AZO when pregnant.
How Much Does a UTI Test and Treatment Cost?
At Austin Women’s Health Center, new patients can pay a fee of $150 to establish care with us, while the cost for those who have visited with us before is $65. Give us a call to find out if we’re in-network with your insurance!
UTIs Are Common, We’re Here For Your UTI Treatment
Some experts believe the lifetime risk for a woman developing a UTI is 1 in 2, according to the Mayo Clinic, while the risk of men developing a UTI is 1 in 10. Your care is our top priority, and while the symptoms can be uncomfortable, know that you’re not alone!
Remember that while a UTI can be easily treatable if left untreated for too long, it can have serious consequences. So if you’ve experienced any of the symptoms mentioned before, give us a call to set up an appointment for a UTI treatment! We’ll make sure you’re taken care of during our visit with us.