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Urinary Tract Infections Causes

Large numbers of bacteria live in the rectal area and also on your skin. Bacteria may get into the urine from the urethra and travel into the bladder. It may even travel up to the kidney. But no matter how far it goes, bacteria in the urinary tract can cause problems.

Just as some people are more prone to colds, some people are more prone to UTIs. Women who have gone through menopause have a change in the lining of the vagina and lose the protective effects of estrogen that decrease the likelihood of UTIs. Postmenopausal women with UTIs may benefit from hormone replacement. Some women are genetically predisposed to UTIs and have urinary tracts that allow bacteria to adhere to it more readily. Sexual intercourse also increases the frequency of UTIs.

Women who use diaphragms have also been found to have an increased risk when compared to those using other forms of birth control. Using condoms with spermicidal foam is also known to be associated with an increase in UTIs in women. Women are more prone to UTIs because they have shorter urethras than men so bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to reach the bladder.

You are more likely to get a UTI if your urinary tract has an abnormality or has recently been instrumented (for example, had a catheter in place). If you are unable to urinate normally because of some type of obstruction, you will also have a higher chance of a UTI.

Disorders such as diabetes also put people at higher risk for UTIs because of the body's decrease in immune function and thus a reduced ability to fight off infections such as UTIs.

Anatomical abnormalities in the urinary tract may also lead to UTIs. These abnormalities are often found in children at an early age but can still be found in adults. There may be structural abnormalities, such as outpouchings called diverticula, that harbor bacteria in the bladder or urethra or even blockages, such as an enlarged bladder, that reduce the body's ability to completely remove all urine from the bladder.

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Information provided by the American Urological Association.