A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop a UTI with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing a UTI. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Sexual Activity

Frequent sexual intercourse increases your risk of UTIs. Having unprotected sex raises the risk still further.

Medical Conditions

The following medical conditions increase your chances of getting UTIs:

  • Urinary tract anatomical defects
  • Vesicoureteral reflux (urine washes back up the ureter into the kidneys)
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened immune system
  • Kidney stones
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Women who use diaphragms for birth control, or whose partners use condoms with spermicidal foam
  • Paraplegia or quadriplegia (body paralysis)
  • History of kidney transplant
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Menopause
  • Nervous system disorders that make it difficult for you to completely empty your bladder

Medical Devices and Procedures

Having a urinary catheter inserted increases your chances of getting a UTI, as do medical procedures performed on the urinary tract system.

Medications

Taking antibiotics for other conditions can increase your risk of getting a UTI.

Age

The rate of urinary tract infections increases with age in both men and women.

Gender

Women have a very high rate of urinary tract infections throughout their lives because the openings to the urethra and rectum are in close proximity, and the urethra is shorter in women than men. The risk of UTIs increases even further after menopause in women and after age 50 in men.

Genetic Factors

Researchers are still trying to understand whether certain genetic factors might make someone more prone to urinary tract infections. It does appear that women whose mothers have had multiple urinary tract infections are themselves more likely to have UTIs. There may also be some factors related to blood type that increase a person’s risk for urinary tract infections.