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Diagnosing & Treating Urinary Tract Infections


An urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection of the urethra (the tube by which urine leaves the body), ureters (the tubes that drain urine from the kidneys to the bladder), bladder, or kidneys. Most urinary tract infections clear up quickly with appropriate treatment.

If you have frequent urinary tract infections in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health who can help treat and prevent this uncomfortable condition. We provide high-quality women’s health services using the latest technology and a philosophy of care, dignity, and respect.

What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?

Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria in the urinary tract from:

  • Changes in the vaginal environment: The hormonal changes brought on during menopause can increase the likelihood of urinary tract infections.
  • Having sex: Sexual intercourse can push germs into the urinary tract.
  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder: If the bladder isn’t completely emptied, bacteria may grow in its dark, moist environment. Some medical conditions, such as kidney stones, increase the risk of infection by making it more difficult to empty the bladder.
  • Using a catheter to drain urine: This thin tube increases the risk of infection.
  • Using a diaphragm for birth control: Diaphragms press against the urethra and may cause urine to stay in the bladder.
  • Wiping from back to front: Bacteria found in feces can enter the urinary tract and cause infection.

You can help reduce your risk of developing an urinary tract infection by:

  • Drinking lots of water or cranberry juice
  • Urinating after sex to flush out bacteria
  • Urinating when you feel the urge
  • Wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear
  • Wiping front to back

Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

Signs of urinary tract infection include:

  • Burning or pain with urination
  • Feeling sick or tired
  • Fever
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Pressure in the lower belly
  • Urine that is reddish in color, cloudy, or smells bad

Urinary Tract Infection Treatment at Dignity Health

If you think you might have an UTI, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. To determine which treatment will work best, your doctor will order a culture of your urine to confirm the presence of bacteria.

Most urinary tract infections go away in a few days after treatment with antibiotics. Your doctor may also give you medicine to help you feel more comfortable as you recover.

If you get more than three urinary tract infections in a year, your doctor may recommend additional antibiotics. If your urinary tract infections tend to occur after sexual intercouse — even if you urinate after sex — a preventive (prophylactic) dose of an antibiotic may be helpful.

Most women feel better soon after beginning treatment, so don’t hesitate to seek out personalized care at any of Dignity Health's Bay Area hospitals.

Dignity Health offers treatment and preventative strategies for urinary tract infections in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.