Recurrent Bladder Infections

Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection Causes

A urinary tract infection is caused when bacteria enter the urinary tract by way of the urethra, and they then multiply within the bladder. With a UTI, the infection can occur in the bladder, sometimes known as cystitis, or within the urethra, which is also called urethritis.

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Bacteria are the cause of urinary tract infections, and when recurrent infections occur, each infection is caused by separate and unique bacteria. This is important to note, as each UTI is distinctive and separate and is not a continuation of the previous infection. Sometimes two consecutive infections can be caused by a bacterium like E. coli, however, each bacterium will have distinctive features, and they should be considered as separate infections.

Symptoms of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

A urinary tract infection does not always come with symptoms or signs, but when it does, they may include the following:

  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain
  • Urine that is cloudy in appearance
  • Urine that is red, dark brown, or bright pink in appearance
  • Passing small amounts of urine frequently
  • Presence of a burning sensation while urinating
  • A persistent and strong urge to urinate

A number of women experience recurrent UTI, and about 20 percent of women that have experienced one UTI will ultimately have another. It is also thought that 30 percent of women that have experienced two UTIs will ultimately have another, and 80 percent of women that have had over two UTIs will likely have recurrences.

Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors associated with urinary tract infections, including the following:

  • Use of certain types of birth control, like spermicidal agents or diaphragms
  • Completing menopause
  • Being sexually active
  • Being female
  • Having an abnormality of the urinary tract
  • Having an immune system that is impaired or suppressed
  • Use of a catheter for urination
  • Having urinary tract blockages

Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection Diagnosis

Procedures and tests that can be done to diagnose a urinary traction infection include the following:

Urine Sample Analysis

Your doctor may ask you to collect a sample of your urine so that the lab can check for bacteria, red blood cells, and white blood cells.

Laboratory Urinary Tract Bacteria Growth

A lab analysis of urine may also require a urine culture. This test will use your urine in order to grow bacteria. This can tell your physician which bacteria are causing the infection and which types of medications may work the best to treat it.


In cases of recurrent UTIs, your physician may perform a cystoscopy to examine your bladder and urethra. The scope is inserted into your urethra and then it passes through your bladder.

Urinary Tract Imaging

If your physician believes that your frequent infections are caused by a urinary tract abnormality, he may request a CT scan or ultrasound to create a urinary tract image. Your physician may also utilize contrast dye in order to highlight certain structures.

UTI Treatment

If you have more than three infections in six months, chances are you’re experiencing recurrent UTI’s. When an infection is present one might have painful urination, blood in the urine, constant urge to empty the bladder, and fever. The following is a list of suggestions to help prevent urinary tract infections:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Daily cranberry extract pills at night
  • Wipe from front to back
  • Shower before sexual activity (best if both partners comply)
  • Drink 2 large glasses of water after sexual activity
  • Empty bladder after sex
  • Rinse after sexual activity
  • If recommended, use estrogen cream or antibiotics


Sanjay Gandhi, M.D.

Sanjay Gandhi, M.D.
Partners in Pelvic Health North Shore Urogynecology

Conditions affecting the female pelvis are the focus at Partners in Pelvic Health North Shore Urogynecology. We provide effective solutions for these problems from our offices at Park City, Woodstock, and Lake Forest in Illinois.

Our team is headed by Sanjay Gandhi, MD, Urogynecologist. Dr. Gandhi’s specialized education included a residency in gynecology and obstetrics at Northwestern University and a three-year urogynecology fellowship. He is among a few in the country to pass the first examination in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (Urogynecology) of The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He also teaches healthcare students.