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Urinary Tract Infections - What We Need to Know

UTI stands for urinary tract infection. Sometimes it can also be called bladder infection or cystitis.

Your bladder should be relatively sterile. Unlike other areas of the body that harbour natural bacterial flora (examples include the vagina, skin and gastrointestinal tract), the bladder and urine should be free of bacteria.

In females, the genital and urinary tract are totally separate structures but are in close proximity anatomically. The opening of your bladder (the urethra) is located just above the opening of your vagina.

Friction and swapping of body fluids during sex can introduce bacteria that live on the skin, or naturally in the vagina or anus near the urethra where they can ascend and cause a UTI.

More often than not the culprit can be E. Coli infection from the bowel.

Peeing directly after sex is a good way to try and prevent UTIs from happening as it kind of “flushes” the urethra washing bacteria away before they have the chance to ascend and cause infection.

Symptoms that might make you suspicious of a UTI can include:
1. Stinging or burning pain when you wee (dysuria)
2. Feeling the need to pee frequently (increased urinary frequency or a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying)
3. Smelly urine

If you think you might be developing a UTI see your GP to get your urine tested to consider whether antibiotics might help.

There are also natural things you can do including keeping your fluids up (hydrating to naturally flush infection out), and consider natural therapies like cranberry and urine alkalinisation agents.

If you develop fever or loin/flank pain in context of a UTI this can be a sign of kidney infection (pyelonephritis) and is a reason to seek more urgent medical attention.