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Urinary tract infections are so common that most women acquire at least one infection in their lives. In fact, an estimated 50% to 80% of women develop urinary tract infections sometime during their lifetime.

It is estimated that 20% to 50% of women will have recurrent urinary tract infections. [1] Men can develop UTIs too. However, women are more prone to developing a urinary tract infection because of their anatomy. The distance between the bladder and the urethral opening is relatively short in women, and this opening is in close proximity to the vagina and rectum, which makes it easy for bacteria to move from one place to another. In men, the urethral tube is longer and its opening is further from the rectum. This results in a lower frequency of urinary tract infections.

The characteristics — color and odor — of your urine are an important warning system for UTIs, as well as serious other health problems including urinary stones, infections, kidney problems, metabolic disorders, diabetes, pituitary disorders, and even tumors.

Urine odor is a common symptom of urinary tract infections, and because of the frequency of infections, it is important to know more about it. The elevated presence of bacteria in the urine effect its smell and color. When a urinary tract infection is present, urine takes on a foul-smelling odor and may appear cloudy or may sometimes contain blood.  

What is urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection, or UTI for short, is also referred to as cystitis. This infection occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract and cause tissue damage to the urethra, bladder, or kidneys. [2] These infections are not transmitted during sexual intercourse, but the chance of developing a UTI increases dramatically if you are sexually active. This increased risk of developing urinary tract infections happens because of the transfer of bacteria during sex between the vagina, rectum, and urethra.

What causes urinary tract infections?

Urinary tract infections occur because bacteria such as Escherichia coli travel into the urethra, bladder, and sometimes the kidneys. Some sexually transmitted infections such as trichomoniasis and Chlamydia can cause urinary tract infections as well.

UTIs often occur after having sexual intercourse with a new partner or with an old partner for the first time in a while; cystitis can be caught from a sexual partner who has a urinary tract infection or from friction on the opening of the urethra during intercourse. This is why urinary tract infections are famously referred as honeymoon cystitis. [3]

You can be more prone to urinary tract infections if you:

  • Experience stress,
  • Have a weak immune system,
  • Are eating a poor diet,
  • Are pregnant,  
  • Have experienced a damaged urethra during childbirth or surgery,
  • Have a genetic predisposition to UTIs. [4]
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