Frequent urinary tract infection is one of the most common reasons women come to see me in my clinic. Why? Because they are awful. Anyone who has ever had an infection in their urine, called a UTI, knows this. They can cause severe pain, urinary frequency, a terrible odor in the urine, and be disruptive to even normal daily activities. Having just one is something a woman is likely to remember for a lifetime. Unfortunately, many women get them several times a year.
If you have had 2 or more UTIs in the last 6 months, or 3 or more in the last year, then you have recurrent UTIs. Now, here’s the catch – these need to be ‘proven’ based on urine culture. Overactive bladder, chronic pelvic pain, vaginal infection, and painful bladder syndrome can all mimic the symptoms of UTI and need to be ruled out before you spend your time and money trying to prevent a bladder infection. A word of caution – much of the time, when a patient comes to my office, they have never actually had a urine culture. They think they have, but what was actually done was a screening test called a urinalysis that was suspicious, so they were given antibiotics. If your symptoms get better on antibiotics, then great. But if not, don’t assume it’s because the medicine didn’t work. It may just be that you didn’t have a UTI to begin with.