What is a UTI?

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection in the bladder, kidneys, urethra and/or the urinary tubes (ureters) caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract.

Cystitis is the most common type of UTI and occurs when there is inflammation of the bladder due to an infection and must be medically diagnosed.

What causes UTIs?

UTIs are caused by an infection, usually by bacteria. The majority of cases are the result of E. Coli bacteria which lives harmlessly in the gastrointestinal tract or around the anus. However, when it enters the bladder’s acidic internal environment, it can thrive, multiply rapidly and affect the lining of the bladder.
Cystitis is the most common lower urinary tract infection (UTI), which causes the bladder lining to become raw and inflamed.

While bacterial infections are the most common cause of UTIs, some other non-infectious risk factors may also cause UTIs such as:

  • Frequent sexual intercourse (for women)
  • Reactions to certain drugs or medication
  • Poor hygiene practice
  • Radiation therapy
  • Use of harsh soaps and deodorant sprays near the groin
  • When a patient has a catheter in the urethra
  • Urinary tract obstruction

Who gets UTIs?

Anyone can get a UTI. UTIs such as medically diagnosed cystitis are a very common problem – 1 in 2 women and 1 in 20 men may have a UTI at some point in their life.

Women are more susceptible to contracting UTIs than men due to two main reasons;

  1. The female urethra is shorter and straighter, making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder
  2. Due to hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives.

These hormonal events can occur;

  • After a complete hysterectomy
  • Certain times within the menstrual cycle
  • During menopause
  • Whilst pregnant

While men are at a much lower risk of UTIs than women, it tends to be more common later in life. The signs and symptoms of a UTI are similar for both men and women (frequent urination, urgency to urinate, burning sensations when urinating and cloudy, bloody or smelly urine) – but the causes may be different.

It is important that men talk to their Doctor if they have symptoms of a UTI.

A full-body shot of a woman

Getting to know UTI symptoms

A few self-care tips on prevention


Frequently asked questions about UTIs