Urinary and genital infections affect your urinary tract or the genital organs and surrounding area. The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, and the bladder while the genital system includes the reproductive organs. Urinary and genital infections may affect the kidney, prostate, bladder, urethra, testes, penis, and vagina. 

What is the urinary tract?

The urinary tract makes and stores urine, one of the body’s liquid waste products. The urinary tract includes the following parts:

  • Kidneys: These small organs are located on the back of your body, just above the hips. They are the filters of your body — removing waste and water from your blood. This waste becomes urine.
  • Ureters: The ureters are thin tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to your bladder.
  • Bladder: A sac-like container, the bladder stores your urine before it leaves the body.
  • Urethra: This tube carries the urine from your bladder to the outside of the body

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common infectious diseases worldwide. UTI’s involve a wide range of clinical manifestations, including acute, chronic, uncomplicated, complicated, asymptomatic, symptomatic, and recurrent. The infections may affect the lower and/or the upper parts of the urinary tract. They can be either bacterial or viral in nature.

Risk Factors:

UTI’s are usually caused by bacteria entering the urethra and moving up into the bladder. 

Factors that can increase the possibility of having a UTI:

  • Not drinking enough fluids. You should aim to drink 8 glasses of fluid every day to prevent dehydration. 
  • If you drink regular alcohol, this causes dehydration which increases the risk of a UTI.
  • Medicines or conditions which weaken your immunity, for example, diabetes.
  • Having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
  • Bad personal and genital hygiene.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Having a urinary catheter. 
  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder, such as in men with an enlarged prostate and in women with a uterine (womb) or bladder prolapse. 
  • Other conditions which block the urinary tract, for example, kidney stones.

Signs and Symptoms 

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) may include:

  • Pain or a burning sensation when peeing (dysuria)
  • Needing to pee more often than usual during the night (nocturia)
  • Urine that looks cloudy, dark, or has a strong smell
  • Needing to urinate suddenly or more urgently than usual
  • Needing to urinate more often than usual
  • Blood in the urine
  • Lower tummy pain or pain in your back, just under the ribs
  • A high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
  • A very low temperature below 36C


Children with UTIs may also:

  • Have a high temperature – your child is feeling hotter than usual if you touch their neck, back or tummy
  • Appear generally unwell – babies and young children may be irritable and not feed or eat properly
  • Wet the bed or wet themselves
  • Be sick

Older, frail people or people with a urinary catheter

In older, frail people who have problems with memory, learning, and concentration (such as dementia), and people with a urinary catheter, symptoms of a UTI may also include:

  • Changes in behavior, such as acting agitated or confused (delirium)
  • Wetting themselves (incontinence) that is worse than usual
  • New shivering or shaking (rigors)


The following tests may be conducted to diagnose a urinary tract infection:

  • Urinalysis: This test will examine the urine for red blood cells, white blood cells, and bacteria. The number of white and red blood cells found in your urine can indicate an infection.
  • Urine culture: A urine culture is used to determine the type of bacteria in your urine. This is an important test because it helps determine the appropriate treatment.

If your infection does not respond to treatment or if you keep getting infections repeatedly, your doctor may use the following tests to examine your urinary tract for disease or injury:

  • Ultrasound: In this test, sound waves create an image of the internal organs. This test is done on top of your skin, is painless, and doesn’t typically need any preparation.
  • Cystoscopy: This test uses a special instrument fitted with a lens and a light source (cystoscope) to see inside the bladder from the urethra.
  • CT scan: Another imaging test, a CT scan is a type of X-ray that takes cross-sections of the body. This test is much more precise than typical X-rays.

Treatment Plans:

The treatment for urinary and genital infections differs with symptoms and an individual treatment plan will be developed by our Consultant Urologist to help you recover. 

The Doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the urinary infection if there is clear evidence of a UTI. The antibiotics need to be taken as directed. Symptoms should improve within 5 to 7 days. It is important to finish the prescribed course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better and your symptoms are improving.

 Other common treatment plans include oral medicine therapy, local medicated ointments, and vaccination which will be administered by your doctor to suit your condition.

How to try to prevent a UTI (self-help)

Drink plenty of fluids. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of fluid every day to prevent dehydration. In warmer weather, the risk of developing a UTI increases so you should increase your fluid intake. 

Alcoholic drinks can also cause dehydration. Always check the color of your urine; if your urine is a dark orange/brown (strong) you need to drink more. Be aware of how much urine you are passing at each time. If you are passing small amounts, increase the number of fluids you are drinking. Your urine should be a pale-yellow color. If you struggle to drink fluids try adding water-based foods to your diet such as soups, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, peaches, oranges, grapefruit, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, skimmed milk, plain yogurt, cottage cheese.

Other simple lifestyle changes:

  • Genital Hygiene – Washing from front to back after you go to the toilet to prevent bacteria from entering your urethra.
  • If you experience constipation this can increase the risk of UTI therefore avoid constipation.
  • Allow yourself time on the toilet to empty your bladder fully.
  • Wear loose cotton underwear, avoid wearing tight fitted synthetic underwear, tights and tight trousers made from man-made fabrics i.e. nylon material.
  • Take a shower rather than a bath.
  • Avoid waiting too long to go to the toilet, as this can hold the bacteria in the bladder.
  • Sexual hygiene – passing urine and washing gently with warm water after sex can help reduce the number of bacteria present.
  • Avoid soaps, shower gels, and intimate hygiene products (wet wipes or talcum powder); these can irritate the urethra.
  • Incontinence – treating the incontinence, whether urinary or fecal, can help to reduce the risk of UTI. Leakage of urine as women get older is not just as part of aging. Wearing pads to cope with incontinence can increase your risk of UTI so if you are suffering from this you may want to talk to your Urologist about addressing the incontinence.

Disclaimer: All contents on this site are for general information and in no circumstances, information be substituted for professional advice from the relevant healthcare professional, Writer does not take responsibility for any damage done by the misuse or use of the information.