We often associate the abbreviation ‘UTI’ with feeling uncomfortable down below and needing to urinate, a lot. But what actually is a UTI? What causes it, and how can it be prevented? Here, we answer some commonly asked questions about UTIs. It’s time to get clued up.

First thing’s first. A urinary tract infection, also known as a UTI, occurs when bacteria passes through the urethra and enters the bladder. The urethra is the tube in which urine passes out of the body during urination. This infection can cause inflammation of the bladder, also known as ‘cystitis’. However, most UTIs are not a serious cause for concern.

Since the urethra in women is short in length, the bacteria can easily access and travel up the tube. Therefore, UTIs are much more common in women than in men.

How do I know if I have a UTI?

Signs and symptoms of a UTI include:

  • Needing to urinate frequently
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pressure or pain in the lower abdomen
  • Unable to pass much urine
  • Cloudy, strong-smelling urine
  • Red or pink-coloured urine (a sign of blood).

Why do I have a UTI?

UTIs occur due to bacteria entering the urethra, causing an infection. There are several ways in which this can happen, such as:

  • During sex
  • Unhygienic toilet practices which transfer bacteria from the anus to the urethra
  • Due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

How can I prevent a UTI?

It is impossible to avoid UTIs completely, but there are various ways you can reduce your chances of getting one in the first place. Better2Know’s Top 3 Tips on preventing UTIs are:

Always urinate before and after sex

Make it a habit to use the toilet before and after you have sex. This helps to remove bacteria which may have entered the urethra during sex.

Stay hydrated

Drinking water frequently, flushes out bacteria which may be lurking in the urinary tract.

Wipe from front to back when using the toilet

This helps to stop any bacteria from the anal area transferring to the urethra.

Will a UTI go away on its own?

Frequent urination should help to clear up mild cases within a few days. Sometimes, UTIs are treated with a course of antibiotics to eliminate the infection.

Can I get tested for a UTI?

Yes, our Urine for Microscopy and Culture home sample collection kit can detect the presence of harmful bacteria. Simply order your test online and send your urine sample to our laboratory by post. With results ready within two days, this test will get you the answers you need quickly and conveniently. Alternatively, you can book an appointment at one of our nationwide clinics.

What should I do if my symptoms are persistent?

If the UTI does not clear up or re-occurs frequently, you should speak to your doctor.

If you are concerned that you may have been at risk of a sexually transmitted infection (STI), you should get tested for STIs. Better2Know’s Comfort Screen provides the ideal combination of tests if you are experiencing genital discomfort, such as burning or itching. This urine-only screen will test you for the STIs which most commonly cause this: Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Herpes, Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma, Gardnerella and Trichomonas.


[1] Mayo Clinic: Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

[2] Everyday Health: What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

[3] Everyday Health: The Link Between UTIs and Sex

[4] NHS: Cystitis

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