Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Urinary Tract Infections: What You Should Know


Am Fam Physician. 2005 Aug 1;72(3):458.

  See related article on urinary tract infections.

What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bladder infection caused by germs. If you have a UTI, it may hurt to go to the bathroom and you may have to go more than usual. Bladder infections are found most often in young women. Sex can make it easier for germs to get into the bladder. Also, women have a shorter urethra (the tube that drains the bladder) than men, making it easier to get a bladder infection.

How do I know if I have a UTI?

Your doctor can tell if you have a UTI by examining you. You might need special tests to make sure.

What do I do if I have a UTI?

Your doctor can give you medicine to make your infection go away. You should take the medicine until it is gone, even if you start to feel better. You also can get medicines (brand: Prodium), from a store to help make you feel better.

How do I prevent another infection?

There is no way to make sure you do not get another infection, but you should always follow your doctor’s directions. Other things that might help are:

  • Wiping from front to back when you go to the bathroom

  • Drinking a lot of water

  • Going to the bathroom right after you have sex

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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