Skip to content

    Women's Health

    Select An Article

    Pregnancy and Urinary Tract Infections

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    A urinary tract infection is an infection in the body's urinary system. This system includes:

    • The kidneys
    • The ureter (tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder)
    • The bladder
    • The urethra (a short tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body)

    The infection most often occurs in the urethra and bladder. It can also travel from the bladder into the ureter and kidneys.

    Recommended Related to Women

    Old Symptoms, New Risks

    By Meryl Davids Landau   When you were in your 20s and 30s, you probably ignored random aches or other minor physical annoyances, and they usually went away. But now those symptoms can come back — often with a different cause, and calling for more serious attention.

    Read the Old Symptoms, New Risks article > >

    What Causes Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)?

    Bacteria are usually the cause of UTIs, and while they are naturally present on the skin, in the lower bowel, and in the stool, a person's urine does not normally contain bacteria.

    When bacteria from one of these sources enter the urinary tract system, they multiply and cause pain and irritation.

    Some of the ways bacteria enter the urinary tract include:

    • Partial blockage of a urinary passage (from the pressure of an enlarged uterus, for example)
    • Sexual intercourse
    • Catheters (tubes placed into the bladder that empty the bladder)
    • Stool that gets wiped into the vagina after a bowel movement

    Do Pregnant Women Get More Urinary Tract Infections?

    Anyone can get a urinary tract infection, but it is most common in women, especially if they are pregnant.

    In pregnant women, hormones cause changes in the urinary tract, which predispose women to infections. In addition, a growing uterus presses on the bladder, preventing the complete emptying of urine. This stagnant urine is a likely source of infection. Untreated, these infections may lead to kidney infections. Urinary tract and kidney infections in pregnant women should be treated to prevent complications.

    How Do I Know If I Have a Urinary Tract Infection?

    Urinary tract infection symptoms include:

    • Feeling an urgent need to urinate or frequent urination
    • Having difficulty urinating
    • Having a burning sensation or cramps in the lower back or lower abdomen
    • Having a burning sensation during urination
    • Urine that looks cloudy or has an odor

    Do Urinary Tract Infections Cause Serious Health Problems?

    With proper care, urinary tract infections rarely cause serious health problems. Most infections are limited to the bladder and urethra, but sometimes they can lead to a kidney infection. If they do, UTIs may lead to preterm labor and low birth weight.

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    hands on abdomen
    Test your knowledge.
    womans hand on abdomen
    Are you ready for baby?
     
    birth control pills
    Learn about your options.
    insomnia
    Is it menopause or something else?
     
    woman in bathtub
    Slideshow
    period
    VIDEO
     
    bp app on smartwatch and phone
    Slideshow
    estrogen gene
    Quiz
     

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Blood pressure check
    Slideshow
    hot water bottle on stomach
    Quiz
     
    question
    Assessment
    Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror
    Quiz