You asked, we answered: Why does my UTI keep coming back?

Woman grabbing her abdomen in pain, holding pills


Why does my UTI keep coming back?

Answer from physician assistant Chloe Condrey, PA-C:

A UTI, or urinary tract infection, occurs when the bladder or other portion of the urinary tract is infected with bacteria caused by an outside source. Symptoms can include burning or pain with urination, frequent urination, the need to urinate urgently, pelvic or lower abdominal pain or pressure and blood in the urine. Testing for a UTI is done through a urine sample. Treatment entails antibiotics.

Recurring UTIs can happen for any of the following reasons:

  • Not drinking enough water
  • Menopause
  • Diabetes
  • Medications
  • Genetics
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Spermicide use
  • Frequent sexual intercourse
  • Intercourse with a new partner
  • Irritating hygiene practices
  • Frequent urine leakage
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Various bladder conditions

UTIs can also relapse or come back. This means that the initial UTI was not treated with the proper antibiotic, or the infection was resistant to the antibiotic.

You can help prevent or reduce the occurrence of UTIs by:

  • Staying well hydrated (drinking two liters of water per day)
  • Keeping blood sugar under control if you have diabetes
  • Using a gentle soap to cleanse vaginal area
  • Wiping front to back
  • Taking showers instead of baths
  • Avoiding spermicides

If you are diagnosed with a UTI, it is important to take the full course of antibiotics prescribed unless told otherwise by your provider. If you have frequent UTIs, talk to your primary care provider and/or specialist about additional preventive treatments such as cranberry supplements, D-mannose, probiotics, daily antibiotics or a vaginal estrogen cream. With the right treatments and lifestyle changes, UTI frequency can decrease.