Women's Pelvic Health and Reconstructive Surgery

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Persistent UTI

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are typically not serious and easily treated. UTIs that return frequently or that do not go away with treatment, however, may indicate other health issues. Physicians at UMMC work with patients to diagnose and treat UTIs, including recurrent or persistent UTI and related issues such as painful bladder syndrome.

The physicians and staff at University Women's Care are a team of caring professionals. Our providers have the expertise to treat even the most complex urogynecologic problems. We provide practiced, thoughtful care and work with patients to find the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment to meet each woman's unique personal needs.

Symptoms of UTI

Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria (usually from the intestines) get into the bladder and multiply, leading to inflammation.

UTI symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination or feeling the need to urinate
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Pain with urination
  • Bladder discomfort
  • Cloudy urine
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder (voiding)
  • Increased incontinence
  • Rarely, blood in the urine
Fever, chills, and pain in the sides of the lower back (flank pain) indicate a more severe infection and should be immediately evaluated by a doctor.

About Recurring or Persistent UTI

If a woman has three or more UTIs in a year or two or more UTIs in six months and if the UTI is treated with antibiotics but then return, she is considered to have recurring or persistent UTI. 

Diagnosing UTI

In most cases, diagnosis and treatment of UTI can be made based on symptoms and treated with antibiotics. Recurring UTI (chronic cystitis) can be diagnosed using a urine sample to determine the most effective antibiotic treatment. An imaging test may also be ordered to check for another source of infection.

Tests used to diagnose UTI and chronic cystitis:

  • Urine sample and culture
  • Ultrasound of the bladder and kidneys
  • Cystoscopy of the bladder

Treating UTI

Usually, antibiotics will treat and end the uncomfortable symptoms of a urinary tract infection. If symptoms do not go away with antibiotics, then further steps will need to be taken to treat and prevent further infection and to help the bladder heal.

Additional treatment and preventative measures for UTI include:

  • Vaginal Estrogen
    Local estrogen therapy can help prevent UTI by increasing the blood supply and thickness of skin in the vagina and urethra. This treatment reverses the effects of menopause on vaginal tissues and helps the body maintain a stronger barrier between bacteria and the urinary tract.
  • Cranberry Therapy
    Some studies suggest that natural chemicals found in cranberries may help prevent bacteria from forming an infection. Cranberry can be found in many forms, including tablets that can be taken orally.
  • Preventative Antibiotic Regimen
    Two types of antibiotic regimens can be used to treat recurring UTI: 
    • Post-coital Antibiotic Regimen
      Used with infections that seem to be triggered by intercourse, a low-dose antibiotic is taken at the time of intercourse to prevent infection.
    • Daily Antibiotic Regimen
      Low-dose antibiotics may be prescribed for 6–12 months to help keep urine clear of infection. This treatment allows the bladder time to heal, so it is better able to prevent infection on its own in the future.

Request an Appointment

Our providers have the expertise to treat even the most complex urogynecologic problems with practiced, thoughtful care for the needs of our patients. The pelvic health program at UMMC sees patients by physician-referral and self-referral.

Healthcare Professionals

To refer a patient to the University Women's Care pelvic health program: