8 Most Common Causes Of UTIs

December 27 2017

If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, then you know the agony of that terrible burning feeling and relentless need to pee—and you’d probably do anything to avoid getting another.

1 in 5 women experience a UTI at some point in her life. And while men can get them, too (UTIs are the second most common infection), women are much more likely to contract one. That’s because we have a shorter urethra, which makes it all too easy for UTI-causing bacteria to pass through it and invade the bladder. No fair.

“Our urinary tract system is designed to keep out bacteria; however, these defenses can fail,” says Dr. Kelly M. Kasper. “When that happens, bacteria can grow and multiply and cause infections.”

Here are 8 of the most common causes of urinary tract infections—and a handful of helpful tips for prevention.


We know, huge bummer. Many women get UTIs after doing the deed because the motion of sex can transfer bacteria from the bowel or vaginal cavity into the urethra. To lower your risk of getting a urinary tract infection, pee within 30 minutes of having sex, says urologist Dr. Lisa N. Hawes. And ignore the often-shared advice that both partners should wash their genitals immediately before and after sex. “This actually changes bacterial flora and will increase UTI risks,” Hawes says.


You might be able to blame your poop (or lack thereof) for your UTI. Being constipated makes it difficult to empty your bladder all the way, which means trapped bacteria have lots of time to grow and cause infection, says Hawes. On the flip side, diarrhoea or faecal incontinence can also increase your risk of getting a UTI, because bacteria from loose stool can easily make their way into your vagina and urethra. A tried-and-true tip: Wipe from front to back whenever you use the bathroom, but be especially careful to do so after a bowel movement.

Uncontrolled diabetes

“When blood sugar is high, the excess sugar is removed through the urine,” Hawes says. “This makes a favourable environment for bacterial overgrowth” and a potentially unfavorable situation for you. You may have heard the myth that eating too much sugar causes urinary tract infections, even if you don’t have diabetes, but Hawes assures us that’s not true. Unless you have diabetes, your sweet tooth isn’t the culprit.

Holding it

If you have to go, go! “Holding our urine for 6 hours or more may make UTIs more common, as bacteria that does get into the bladder has lots of time to overgrow between voids,” Hawes says. While travelling, for example, it may seem like a good idea to hold tight and keep driving until the next rest area, but do yourself a favor and stop—the extra miles aren’t worth the risk of a UTI infection.


Drinking plenty of water not only quenches your thirst, but it also wards off UTIs during hot summer months, when many of us don’t hydrate enough. “We should always try to drink at least half our body weight in ounces,” says dietitian Stephanie Seitz. “When we drink plenty of water, we help flush out bacteria that can cause UTIs.”

Birth control

If you switch your birth control, the resulting hormone shift could lead to a change in normal bacteria in your vagina, which could up the odds of a UTI, says Hawes. Use of diaphragms and spermicides can also increase your chances of developing one, Kasper adds.

Feminine products

“Dirty pads and tampons are a place where bacteria can grow very easily,” says Dr Ehsan Ali. So change them frequently to prevent urinary tract infections while on your period. Likewise, Dr Alyssa Dweck says to choose your underwear wisely: “A cotton crotch is always preferred, and avoid thongs with a thin, chafing g-string, which can transfer bacteria.” Wearing cotton helps prevent excess moisture that causes bacteria to grow down there, Dweck says.

Kidney stones

These mineral deposits up your risk of getting a UTI, says Ali, because they can block the urinary tract and back up urine, giving bacteria plenty of time to grow.


If you think you’re suffering from UTI, see your GP or call to schedule an appointment with one of our medical professionals on 03 5229 5192 (Myers Street Family Medical Practice) or 03 5241 6129 (The Cottage Medical Centre).


Sourced from Prevention Australia