What Is the Most Common Cause of Urinary Tract Infection?

Medically Reviewed on 2/18/2022
Urinary Tract Infection
E. coli bacteria are the most common cause of urinary tract infection (UTI).

E. coli bacteria are the most common cause of urinary tract infection (UTI).

  • E. coli present in the large intestine may travel down to the anus and then to the urethra, especially during wiping of the anal area with toilet paper.
  • If the infection is left untreated, the bacteria may travel up to the bladder and may continue to infect your kidneys.

Women are more commonly affected with UTIs because they have a shorter urethra close to the anus. As a result, bacteria from the anus can easily travel to the urethra and cause infection.

Additionally, engaging in sex can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract.

What are the risk factors for UTIs?

Women with the following conditions are at a higher risk of UTI:

The following factors may promote bacterial growth in women:

  • Not drinking adequate fluids that can concentrate the urine, thereby helping the bacteria thrive
  • Intentionally holding urine for long periods
  • Spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage that makes bladder emptying difficult regularly and completely
  • Conditions or situations that obstruct the urine flow, such as a tumor, a kidney stone, and an enlarged prostate.
  • Not passing urine immediately after sexual intercourse can increase the risk of UTIs
  • Diabetes and other conditions that weaken the body's immune system to fight off infection
  • Catheters (tubes placed in the urethra and bladder to drain urine)
  • Hormonal changes in the urinary tract of pregnant women encourage bacteria to spread through the ureters and to the kidneys
  • The use of certain birth controls such as the diaphragm and spermicidal agents that can increase the risk of UTIs
  • Urinary surgery or an examination of your urinary tract involving medical instruments that can increase the risk of UTIs
  • Vigorous sexual activity can cause germs to move from the vagina to the urethra

Older adults, children, and men have risks of UTIs.

Some factors that increase the likelihood of UTIs may include:

  • A previous UTI
  • Sexual activity
  • Age (older adults and young children are more likely to get UTIs)
  • Structural problems in the urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate
  • Poor hygiene, for example, in children who are potty training


How much urine does the average adult pass each day? See Answer

What are the treatment options for UTI?

Urine alkalizer and antibiotics are the first choices for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). 

The physician chooses antibiotics to treat your UTI based on:

  • Effectiveness of the antibiotic toward infecting bacteria.
  • The severity of the infection.
  • Your age group.
  • Antibiotic resistance.

Some of the antibiotics used to treat UTIs include:

Apart from antibiotics, cranberry juice is known to show improvement in UTIs; however, monitor for the following signs if you are drinking cranberry juice to treat UTIs:

Do not take cranberry juice if you are on blood-thinning medications such as warfarin.

How do you prevent UTIs?

Some ways to prevent UTIs include:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Do not hold your urine for a long time.
  • Empty your bladder after having sex.
  • Take showers instead of baths.
  • Minimize douching, spray, or powder in the genital area to avoid irritation in the urethra.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing (including underpants) and dress children in loose-fitting clothing.
  • Change the birth control method if it promotes bacterial growth in the urethra.
  • Teach girls to wipe from the front to back while potty training.
  • Use appropriate lubrication during sex. Try using a small amount of lubricant (such as K-Y Jelly) before sex if your partner is a little dry.
  • Clean the anus and outer lips of the genitals every day to prevent the transmission of bacteria.
  • Uncircumcised men should wash their foreskin regularly. Teach an uncircumcised boy to wash his foreskin appropriately.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 2/18/2022
Image Source: iStock Images