If you are a woman, your chances of getting at least one urinary tract infection in your lifetime are as high as 50 percent. Why are women at such high risk for UTIs? The basic answer lies in the anatomy surrounding the urinary tract.
The urinary tract is the system that collects waste and extra fluid from the blood and removes it from the body as urine. It consists of the kidneys, bladder, tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder called ureters, and the tube that lets urine flow out of the body called the urethra.
Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that get into the urinary tract through the urethra.
According to MedicineNet.com, 90 percent of uncomplicated UTIs are caused by the E. coli bacteria, which live inside the intestines. E. coli can also be found around the anus where bowel movements leave the body.
Because the anus is located close to the urethra in women, E. coli bacteria from the anus can sometimes get into the urethra and cause a UTI. The most common causes of this type of infection in women are wiping incorrectly and sexual intercourse.
After using the toilet, women should always wipe from front to back. This motion moves bacteria away from the urethra instead of pulling it from the anus toward the urethra.
Sexual intercourse can also push bacteria into the urethra. This may explain why some women develop UTIs on their honeymoons.
Urinating soon after sex may reduce this risk of developing a UTI since urine flowing out of the bladder can help push bacteria out of the urethra.
Other factors than may increase your risk of a UTI include:
• Blocked urine passage — Kidney stones or any abnormality in the urinary tract that causes urine to back up in the bladder may increase the risk of infection.
• Holding urine — Waiting longer to use the toilet gives bacteria in the urinary tract more time to multiply, which increases the risk of infection.
• Birth control — Women who use a diaphragm for birth control may be at higher risk of developing UTIs, as may women who use spermicides.