Kidney Research UK estimates that around half of the women in the UK have had a UTI, and it’s well known that it's very likely for them to get one. It doesn’t make this unfortunate condition less painful or frustrating, however. When one comes back, it can be even more miserable for patients.
Here to provide a detailed guide to recurrent UTIs, including causes, risk reduction and treatment, is esteemed and experienced urologist Mr Aza Mohammed.
What are the most common causes for recurrent urinary infections in women?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common. These infections are usually ascending, caused by bacteria that are commensal (normally-occurring) in the gut and are colonised in the vagina. Infection can also be transmitted through the blood stream but that tends to be very infrequent.
Infections of the urinary tract could be either uncomplicated which are characterised by the need to pass urine more frequently as well as burning sensation in the urethra. Complicated infections on the other hand are characterised with high temperatures and feeling of being generally unwell. The latter usually would require hospital admission.
Are some women more prone to recurrent urinary infections?
Women of all ages are prone to infections. There are different risk factors that can cause these infections. They could be local, such as sexual intercourse or vaginal atrophy (commonly seen in post-menopausal women), or systemic, such as women with an impaired immune system with conditions such as diabetes.
Is there any way that women can prevent urinary infections from recurring, themselves?
There are different measures that can be taken by women to reduce the risk of UTIs. Women are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, maintain healthy diet and avoid constipation. Also, maintaining local hygiene is crucial in preventing recurrent infections. In sexually-active women, it is advisable that they empty the bladder after intercourse to get rid of any bacteria that have gained access.
When should women see a doctor about recurrent urinary infections?
In general, most urinary tract infections are uncomplicated and can be treated with a short course of antibiotics. However, in certain situations there is a need for medical attention. Pregnant women are particularly at risk as UTIs can cause abortions and premature labour. Therefore, those women need strict surveillance of their urine to prevent infections. In addition, women who are immunocompromised and those with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis need to seek medical attention as untreated UTIs can lead to serious infections.
What treatment is available for recurrent urinary infections in women?
There have been various attempts in the past to prevent UTis in the women using various non-pharmacological or pharmacological agents. However only two treatments are currently available to prevent recurrent UTIs:
- Intravesical instillation of iAluRil: this is a combination hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulphate administered directly into the bladder via a urinary catheter. This provides a coating on the inside of the bladder and stop the adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall.
- Vaccines: there are different vaccines available that target the bacteria causing the UTIs.
You may wonder: ‘What does a urologist do for females?’ Urologists treat many male-specific conditions but can also treat urinary problems in women. If your quality of life is impacted by recurring UTIs, make an appointment with expert consultant Mr Mohammed, via his Top Doctors profile.