April 25th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Why do I keep getting urinary tract infections?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Elizabeth of Sacramento, California:

I've had 11 urinary tract infections in 13 months and the doctors only give me antibiotics. What is causing this to happen to me? I am scared it could be something really bad. What can I do?

Expert answer:

I do not know the details of your situation but can offer some information about recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) in women.

A UTI is any infection (usually caused by bacteria) of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. While repeated infections are often found in healthy women, they may signal a problem with the anatomy or function of a woman's urinary tract.

Abnormalities of the urinary system may be found using imaging studies such as an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan.

Certain practices such as infrequent or incomplete voiding, sexual intercourse (particularly with the use of spermicides), and poor hygiene can lead to repeated urinary tract infections.

Conditions such as diabetes, pregnancy and neurological disorders can also increase a person's risk for UTI.

To avoid further infections it can be helpful to urinate frequently and drink plenty of fluids. Some physicians recommend taking probiotics to help prevent UTIs, and for some women an oral antibiotic daily or after sexual intercourse may be necessary.

Research studies have not confirmed theories that wearing tights or panty hose, wiping improperly after using the toilet, douching, or using hot tubs may increase infections, although avoiding such practices probably wouldn't hurt.

For concerns about your own situation, I encourage you to talk to your doctor to see if additional testing, treatment or a consultation with a specialist might be helpful. Good luck!

soundoff (439 Responses)
  1. Cedrick Seilheimer

    Kidney infection, if not treated promptly, can lead to serious complications, including kidney damage and sepsis (blood poisoning). It is usually treated with antibiotics. In many cases, patients with kidney infection are hospitalized. ,

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    March 14, 2013 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Krish Nair

    I have had kidney infeection two times this year. I have taken Amicacin anti-biotic injection. Now doctor recommend CT scan. Shall I go for that ?

    June 10, 2013 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. flaure25

    I have never had a UTI but I have heard of how painful it can be. Check out this article for more information:

    July 13, 2013 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary Martisius

      I had problems with uti just about every month. I started taking over the counter cranberry gel caps....2/daily, and the uti problems went away. No more antibiotics:)

      July 3, 2016 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
  4. Janelle

    I had chronic utis for 2 years. I went off birth control (had been on for 10 years) and never got a UTI again! Try it!

    August 18, 2013 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Donna Powell

    I've had few this year the last one I remember was June then another 4 weeks later now I felt as if had again urine was cloudy for few samples this morning doctor said no sign infection in dip. Yet I def feel like it he thought my pelvic area was fuller one side so done internal then seemed happpy was just muscle. I don't want keep going back and forth but how ami suposed to know if it's a infection . I av drunk lots water this afternoon it's not cloudy now but pelvic area still feels bloated achey. Any ideas please

    October 1, 2014 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. help me plz!

    So I have kinda a weird story. I had a fiance a few years back and every time we had sex I'd get utis and yeast infections every time we had sex. I could figure out why..we had broken up for a year and in that time I found different lovers and I never had the same problem. But me and my ex fiance got back together and now I get them like crazy again ... I hate it so much and I need someone to explain this to me!!!

    December 29, 2014 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mel

      I get them a lot but it happens randomly. I might have to try to take probiotics. I'm actually really unhealthy and drink tons of soda but don't gain weight. I have to constantly buy uti meds at Walgreens. I'm glad that I don't have to go to the doctor every time but I feel like now i have to get it checked out.

      January 28, 2015 at 05:59 | Report abuse |
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  8. Nancy

    D-mannose works wonders if your infections that keep recurring are caused by E-coli. Google D-mannose uti. It will take a few days for it to go away. Better than taking antibiotics all the time. Research it...it works for E-coli infections.

    June 9, 2015 at 00:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Nancy

    I take D-mannose everyday just to keep it away. If I miss a day or two the uti comes back.

    June 9, 2015 at 00:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Bekka

    I'm a 21 year old women, my mum first noticed I started with water infections when I was 2. My mum suffers with the same problem and so does my younger sister which she has just turned 6. I'm getting sick of theses infections now I cannot get rid of them there's always there! My doctor gives me all theses antibiotics and they don't even work. When I do a water sample that shows I've got a water infection, blood and protein in my urine but when they send it off to the lab it doesn't grow anything so all those antibiotics they have bin giving me no wonder they don't work if the water sample didn't grow anything at all, I really don't no what to do anymore doctors don't have a clue they have tried all sorts about 2 years ago I had a bladder stretch and that didn't work! I'm always feeling sick, really tired and always cold, when I need a wee I feel like I can't hold it in but when I go to the toilet I just dribble and my wee comes out really slow and sometimes it stings and feels sore, my urine always smells as well. I've just bin to the doctors today and he has told me when I wash not to use any soaps down below. I've had a ultrasound scan shows that my bladder looks ok. I am thinking about going for a mri scan I would love to no what is causing this I'm always feeling miserable I just feel like everyone's having a good time when I go out with my friends. It's not like I get a infection once a month mines there everyday Me and my mum are actually wondering if we was born with a deformed pipe. Anyone suffering with the same problem? Help!

    June 13, 2015 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Karen

      Hi Bekka u sound exactly the same as me,I've never had an answer and suffered since 2005,let me know how u get on,all the best to u x

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