09 Oct UGSA Urinary Tract Infections in Women Information Sheet
Urinary tract infections (UTI) can affect any part of the urinary tract – bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis) and/or the kidneys (pyelonephritis). They are usually caused by bacteria that live in the lower gut that travel into the urinary tract. The commonest bacteria is E. coli.
Women are more prone to developing UTI due to the short length of the urethra compared to men, which allows normal vaginal bacteria to travel up the urethra into the bladder as shown in the diagram. Up to 50% of women will have a UTI during their life. Other factors that increase the risk of UTI are sexual activity, pregnancy and breast feeding, menopause and any instrumentation of the bladder (such as having a catheter).