Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

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Recurrent urinary tract infections are common in women.  A urinary tract infection is considered recurrent in women who have been adequately treated for an infection and then it returns after symptoms have resolved.  Women who have more than 2 urinary tract infections in 6 months or more than 3 urinary tract infections in a year should seek medical help.

What causes recurrent urinary tract infections?

The anatomy of the female urinary tract is in close proximity to the anal opening.  Fecal bacteria can colonize the vagina and distal urethra (end of the urethra).  The bacteria can then ascend into the urinary bladder causing an infection. 

However, if you are experiencing recurrent infections, other medical causes need to be excluded. 

A full evaluation for recurrent urinary tract infections will include a detailed medical history and focused genitourinary examination.  Based on your consultation, other diagnostic tests may need to be performed.  For instance, a bladder ultrasound to evaluate residual urine volume may be performed as well as cystoscopy (evaluation of the bladder with a camera).

What to bring with you to your appointment:

You should bring any documented urine cultures to your office visit.  In addition, it is helpful if you have a list of the antibiotics that have been used to treat your infections.

What treatments are available?

All symptomatic, culture proven urinary tract infections need to be treated with antibiotics.  Your urologist may request a second follow-up culture to prove the infection has been eradicated.

There are a variety of treatments available for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections, including oral medications and supplements.  Together with your UCLA urologist, we will choose the regimen that is best for you.