Chronic Urinary Tract Infections in Women

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are painful and can disrupt your life. They are a very common problem, especially for women. Up to 60 percent of women will have at least one UTI during their lifetime.

But for some women, the infection doesn’t go away with treatment. Or it disappears only to come back again soon. Our urogynecology specialists are experts at treating these complex, chronic urinary tract infections.

If you have chronic or recurrent UTIs, we can help you finally find relief.

What are chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs)?

A UTI occurs when bacteria gets into your urine and travels through the urinary tract. It can also get into the bladder and cause inflammation. When this happens, the condition is called cystitis or a bladder infection.

If you have two or more urinary tract infections in six months, or more than three in a year, that is considered a chronic or recurrent UTI.

Chronic or recurrent urinary tract infection symptoms

The frequency of UTIs is what determines whether they’re considered chronic. Some common symptoms of urinary tract infections (chronic or not) include:

  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Strong, frequent need to urinate
  • Releasing only a small amount of urine, even though you feel like you have a full bladder
  • Cloudy or bad-smelling urine
  • Blood in urine

Chronic urinary tract infection causes

Urinary tract infections result from bacteria finding its way into your urine. Although urine is normally bacteria-free, there are many ways bacteria can enter your urinary tract. Causes and risk factors include:

  • Sexual intercourse (particularly with a new partner)
  • Certain types of birth control (including diaphragms and spermicidal foam)
  • Low estrogen levels (especially after menopause)
  • Holding in urine or not emptying your bladder completely
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Wiping from back to front after a bowel movement

Chronic urinary tract infection diagnosis

If you suffer from repeated UTIs, our experts have the skill and expertise to accurately diagnose the problem. Testing may include:

  • Urine analysis: We analyze a sample of your urine to look for signs of infection.
  • Cystoscopy: We use a small, lighted scope to see into the bladder and urethra, looking for inflammation, irritation or other issues.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: This imaging test allows us to get detailed pictures of your entire urinary tract to help pinpoint problem areas.

Chronic urinary tract infection treatment

Chances are, you’ve tried repeatedly to find the right treatment for your chronic urinary tract infections. If you’ve been unable to find relief, our experts can help. We specialize in effective treatments for recurrent UTIs.

Our experts work with you to create a customized treatment strategy. Depending on your condition and medical history, your care plan may include:

  • Long-term antibiotics: Your doctor may suggest a course of low-dose antibiotics for you to take for six months up to two years.
  • Self-directed antibiotic therapy: Some women with chronic UTIs benefit from taking antibiotics as needed. This might include taking them after sexual intercourse or at the first sign of an infection.
  • Intravenous (IV) antibiotics: Complex UTIs may respond to a short course of IV antibiotics (where the medicine is delivered directly into your bloodstream). You would likely follow up with a course of oral antibiotics.
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