Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria and are 10 times more common among women than men. More than 50% of women will have at least one UTI during their lifetime; for most of these infections, patients need to be treated with antibiotics. About 30 – 40% of UTIs recur within 6 months after the initial episode. When UTIs do recur, it is often because the treatments used to suppress bacteria seem to work at first, but they do not produce a lasting cure.
Signs and Symptoms
Pain or burning during urination, the need to urinate more often than usual, a feeling of urgency during urination, blood or pus in the urine, cramps or pain in the lower abdomen, strong smelling urine and pain during sexual intercourse
A woman’s vagina normally produces a discharge that usually is described as clear or slightly cloudy, non-irritating, and odor-free. During the normal menstrual cycle, the amount and consistency of discharge can vary. At one time of the month there may be a small amount of a very thin or watery discharge; and at another time, a more extensive thicker discharge may appear. All of these descriptions could be considered normal.
A vaginal discharge that has an odor or that is irritating usually is considered an abnormal discharge. The irritation might be itching or burning, or both. The itching may be present at any time of the day, but it often is most bothersome. These symptoms often are made worse by sexual intercourse. If not taken care of, it will worsen in amount, color, or smell of the discharge.
Yeast infections of the vagina are what most women think of when they hear the term “vaginitis.” Vaginal yeast infections are caused by one of the many species of fungus called Candida. Candida normally lives in small numbers in the vagina, as well as in the mouth and digestive tract, of both men and women.
Yeast infections can produce a thick, white vaginal discharge with the consistency of cottage cheese although vaginal discharge may not always be present. Yeast infections usually cause the vagina and the vulva to be very itchy and red.
What Causes It?
Risk factors include:
- A new sex partner or multiple partners
- More frequent or intense intercourse
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
- Staphylococcus saprophyticus
- Use of irritating products, such as harsh skin cleansers
- Use of irritating contraceptives, such as diaphragms and spermicides
- Use of birth control pills
- Heavy use of antibiotics
- A blockage in the urinary tract (benign masses or tumors)
Although “yeast” is the name most women think of when they think of vaginal infections, bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common type of vaginal infection in women of reproductive age. BV is caused by a combination of several bacteria. These bacteria seem to overgrow in much the same way as do Candida when the vaginal balance is upset. The exact reason for this overgrowth is not known.
Is Bacterial Vaginosis Spread Through Sex?
Bacterial vaginosis is not transmitted through sexual intercourse but is more common in women who are sexually active. It is also not a serious health concern but can increase a woman’s risk of developing other sexually transmitted diseases and can increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) following surgical procedures such as abortion and hysterectomy.
What Are the Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
Up to 50% of the women who have bacterial vaginosis do not have any symptoms. Most women learn they have the infection during their annual gynecologic exam. But if symptoms appear, they can include:
- White or discolored discharge.
- Discharge that smells “fishy” that is often strongest after sex.
- Pain during urination.
- Itching and sore vagina.
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