Understanding Recurrent Bladder Infections in Women
- Women get urinary tract infections more often than men because they have a shorter urethra.
- The most common bacteria is E.Coli because this the most common organism in and about the perineum.
- Although E.Coli causes no symptoms on the skin or in the gastrointestinal tract, it is not normal in the bladder and thus causes symptoms.
- Any action that causes the perineal bacterial to enter the urethral and then the bladder promotes a bladder infection.
- Wiping back to front, sexual activity, or changing a tampon can encourage an infection.
- This is why drinking plenty of water a day, voiding often and after sexual activity can prevent a bladder infection.
- Bladder infection or urinary tract infection (UTI) are similar terms and are associated with bladder symptoms of frequency, urgency, but not fever.
- Some patients will say “I have a kidney infection.” A true kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is when a bladder infection has ascended to the kidney and the kidney tissue becomes infected. This is associated with fever and flank pain and is a much more serious disorder.
- The most common cause of a bladder infection in a young women is sexual activity. We often times recommend voiding after sex and will prescribe a “post-coital” antibiotic to prevent an infection in those patients who have shown a tendency to recurrent problems. Meatitis (an irritation of the urethra that can occur with sexual activity) mimis a bladder infection and causes the same type of symptoms. Some patients are told they are having recurrent bladder infections when it is actually meatitis mimicking the symptoms. This is corrected with pelvic alignment and antibiotics are not necessary. Discerning the two situations is sometimes difficult.
- In the post menopausal women the most common cause is lack of estrogen and the resultant thinning of the urethral mucosa which in turn more easily allows bacteria to enter the bladder from the vaginal area. Estrogen cream is commonly used to correct this and vaginal dryness that is sometimes noted during sexual intercourse.
- Of course in refractory situations an evaluation of the kidneys to rule out an obstruction or stone and cystoscopy to make sure the urethra is of normal caliber and that there is no abnormality of the bladder that might promote infections.
Recurrent bladder infections in the female is one of the most common conditions we see at Northeast Georgia Urological Associates and we look forward to helping you resolve this very frustrating condition.