The Care and Feeding of the Enlarged Prostate Gland

October 21, 2016

If you are a man, then you have a prostate gland.  If you have a prostate gland, then you are likely to be one of the 14 million American men who experience bothersome symptoms beginning around age 50.  This article will discuss the diagnosis of the enlarged prostate gland and what are some of the available treatment options that can reduce the symptoms associated with this common condition.  It is a walnut sized organ at the base of the bladder and surrounds the urethra or tube that is in the penis and transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  It is common and even normal for the prostate gland to become enlarged as a man ages. Though the prostate continues to grow during most of a man’s life, the enlargement doesn’t usually cause problems until middle age or around 50. BPH rarely causes symptoms before age 40, but more than half of men in their sixties and as many as 90 percent in their seventies and eighties have symptoms of BPH.

The prostate gland encircles the urethra like a donut, so problems with urination can occur if the gland restricts urine flow through the urethra. As the prostate enlarges, the layer of tissue surrounding it stops it from expanding, causing the gland to press against the urethra like a clamp on a garden hose.

The following changes occur over a period of time.

  • The bladder wall becomes thicker and will contract without the owner’s permission causing urgency of urination.
  • The bladder begins to contract even when it contains small amounts of urine, causing more frequent urination.
  • Eventually, the bladder weakens and loses the ability to empty itself. Urine remains in the bladder.

The narrowing of the urethra and partial emptying of the bladder cause many of the problems associated with BPH.

Some problems associated with BPH are

  • Urinating more often during the day
  • Need to urinate frequently during the night
  • Urinary urgency, which means the urge to urinate is so strong and sudden, you may not make it to the toilet in time and soil your clothing-very embarrassing!
  • The urine stream is slow to start
  • Dribbling after urination
  • A sensation that the bladder isn’t emptied after urination
  • Lack of force to the urine flow, which makes aiming more difficult
  • The sensation of needing to go again a few minutes after urinating


You may first notice symptoms of BPH yourself, or your doctor may find that your prostate is enlarged during a routine check-up. The doctor can determine the size of the prostate gland during a physical examination.

The diagnosis is made with several of the following tests:

Symptom Score

This is a brief questionnaire that provides a numerical value to the symptoms associated with urination.  The higher the score (maximum is 25), the more symptoms a man has and the more likely he will want to have treatment for relief of his symptoms.


A urine sample is taken to look for signs of blood and infection.

Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)

Your doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the condition of the prostate that lies close to the rectal wall. If your doctor feels something suspicious such as a lump or bump, further tests will be carried out. Other tests are needed to enable a more accurate diagnosis. 

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test

A blood sample is taken by your doctor to check for prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is produced by the prostate and is increased by cellular abnormalities within the prostate.

As men get older the prostate gland grows and so the PSA is likely to rise. A high PSA may indicate some type of prostate disease. The level can be raised due to inflammation of the prostate (Prostatitis) and enlargement of the prostate gland (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH).

Urine flow rate

This test consists of a man urinating in private over a funnel which measures the volume of urine and the time that it takes to empty the bladder.  The urine flow rate is expressed in milliliters per second.  Normal is greater than 15 ml\second.


Sometimes the doctor will ask a patient to urinate into a special device that measures how quickly the urine is flowing. A reduced flow often suggests BPH.

Imaging studies

The ultrasound examination evaluates the size of the prostate gland which often determines the treatment option which is best for your situation.  It is a painless examination consisting of the insertion of a small pencil-size probe into the rectum and uses sound waves to determine the appropriate treatment for prostate gland enlargement.


In this exam, the doctor inserts a small tube through the opening of the urethra in the penis. This procedure is done after a solution numbs the inside of the penis so all sensation is lost. The tube, called a cystoscope, contains a lens and a light system, which help the doctor see the inside of the urethra and the bladder. This test allows the doctor to determine the size of the gland and identify the location and degree of the obstruction.

Treatment options

  1. Watchful waiting-If the person has BPH but is not bothered by the symptoms, the patient and the doctor may decide to simply wait and monitor the condition regularly. This option requires regular check-ups with the doctor – usually once a year – to see if the condition is getting any worse.
  1. Drug therapyYour doctor may advise drug therapy which aims at shrinking the enlarged prostate. The doctor will select the medication that best suits the condition, keeping in mind the person’s general health condition, medical history, medications taken for other conditions and quality of life considerations.
  1. Minimally invasive treatments-The prostatic urethral lift or UroLift is an implant of several polyester sutures connected by two small metallic tabs that opens the prostate gland located in the urethra and improves the flow of urine thus decreasing the symptoms of the enlarged prostate gland. UroLift has been approved by the FDA to relieve the symptoms of the enlarged prostate gland. There have been nearly xx thousand of men who have had the treatment which reports favorable results up to 4 years. Most insurance companies will now pay for the UroLift procedure 
  1. Surgery-Surgery is another option for the treatment of BPH. The most common type of surgery for BPH is TURP (Trans Urethral Resection of the Prostate). This procedure requires an admission to the hospital, a general anesthesia, a urinary catheter for several days, and the risk of sexual problems afterwards.

Bottom Line:  Nearly all men will experience the problems associated with the enlarged prostate gland.  The enlarged prostate gland impacts a man’s quality of life.  Help is available and nearly all men can be helped.  If you have symptoms associated with urination, speak to your doctor.

Don’t Beat the Band to Treat the Enlarged Prostrate Gland

October 21, 2016

The prostate is just a walnut sized gland that forms a part of the male reproductive system. The gland is constructed of two lobes, or areas, surrounded by an outer layer of tissue. For reasons not entirely understood, the prostate gland becomes enlarged, causes problems with urination, and affects a man’s quality of life.  That may be the bad news.  The good news is that there are ways to treat it.


The prostate can be found in front of the rectum and just beneath the urinary bladder, where urine is stored. The prostate also encompasses the urethra, the duct by which urine passes out from the body. For most men, the nightly bathroom runs can be the very first indication of an enlarged prostate. Other symptoms might include problem beginning a flow of urine, leaking or dribbling.


During the early stage of prostate enlargement, the urinary bladder muscle becomes thicker and forces pee through the narrow urethra by contracting more strongly. Like grey hair, an enlarged prostate is just a natural byproduct of getting older, doctors say.

Although it is just not known why only some males develop an enlarged prostate, it is clear that increasing age is the primary risk factor. The problem is, the nightly bathroom runs can be frequent, finally edging their way into the day routine. I recommend seeing your doctor if you develop urinary difficulties because of an enlarged prostate.


Benign prostatic hypertrophy is a non-cancerous enhancement of the prostate gland, often found in men over the age of fifty. Problem in passing urine or pain when passing urine, a burning or stinging feeling when passing urine, strong, regular urge to pass urine, even when there is just a small amount of urine are the signs of benign prostatic hypertrophy.


Treatment for an enlarged prostate is dependent upon the symptoms and signs and their severity. In case you have significant problems, like urinary bleeding, persistent bladder infections, urinary bladder and kidney harm, your physician will likely recommend treatment.


In case your prostate is enlarged, but your symptoms are not too bothersome, treatment might not be necessary. This is referred to as watchful waiting.  If you and your doctor select this option, you will be asked to return about once a year for a symptom check, a prostate exam and a PSA test or prostate specific antigen test which is a screen test for prostate cancer in men between the ages of 50 and 75.


There are two kinds of medication that help to control the signs of an enlarged prostate, they are alpha blockers and alpha reductase Inhibitors.

The alpha blockers work by calming the muscles at the neck of the urinary bladder making urination easier. Alpha reductase inhibitors work be actually shrinking the size of the prostate gland.  An enlarged prostate now is just easier to treat if the treatment begins early. These medications have side effects including reducing the volume of the ejaculate at the time of sexual intimacy.  The alpha blockers also affect the ability to have cataract surgery which is very common in older men.  Finally, the drugs must be taken for the rest of man’s life.


Now there are minimally invasive treatments such as lasers, prostatic urethral implants or UroLift to open the prostate to allow an improved flow of urine from the bladder to the outside of your body, and the use of steam or water vapor to heat the prostate tissue to reduce its size and affect urine flow.


Finally, there are surgical procedures to remove the prostate tissue.  The most common is the transurethral resection of the prostate or TURP.  These operations require admission to the hospital, a general anesthesia so the patient doesn’t experience any pain, the use of a catheter for a few days, and several weeks or moths to return to normal activity.


Your doctor will explain the different treatments and which might be best for your situation.


Prostate Cancer

October 21, 2016

What do Jose Torres, John Kerry, and Jerry Lewis have in common?  They all have prostate cancer and have been successfully treated.  Nearly 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and nearly 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer.  This article will discuss the symptoms of prostate cancer and what can be done to diagnose the

The most common prostate problems are an enlarged prostate, prostatitis and prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer frequently has no symptoms and most men will have prostate cancer and not be aware of the diagnosis.  Symptoms that occur as a result of any prostate condition including benign enlargement of the prostate gland and prostate cancer include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Getting up at night to urinate
  • Pain with urination
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Bone pain
  • Impotence or Erectile dysfunction (ED)


Risk factors associated with prostate cancer include:

The condition is rare in men under 40 years of age, but most cases are found in men aged 50 or older. At age 80+ nearly all men will have prostate cancer but will seldom succumb to the disease or they have prostate cancer but will not die from it. 

Genetic factor may contribute to prostate cancer risk. Men who have a father, brother, uncle or cousin with prostate cancer are 2 to 3 times more likely to get the condition as compared to men without prostate cancer in a close relative. 

African-American men also have an increased risk of having prostate cancer. It is suggested that African-American men start seeing a doctor for a digital rectal exam and a PSA test after age 40.

Studies have found that obese men have a greater risk of developing more advanced prostate cancer as well as a higher risk of metastasis and death from the condition.

Many studies have found a link between smoking and getting prostate cancer as well as an increased the risk of dying from the condition.

High fat diet has been shown to put men at high risk of prostate cancer. Some studies show that men who have diets high in red meat may raise a person’s chances of developing prostate cancer. 

Bottom Line:  Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of death in men due to cancer (lung cancer is number one), and is very treatable if the diagnosis is made early.  This can be accomplished with a rectal examination and a PSA test.  Speak to your doctor for more information.


FAQs on the Enlarged Prostate

October 21, 2016


What is BPH?
 Benign prostatic hyperplasia is commonly known as enlarged prostate. BPH is a non-cancerous condition in which prostate cells grow, enlarging the gland and causing it to squeeze the urethra. A variety of symptoms may result, including difficult, frequent or urgent urination.

When Should I Seek BPH Treatment?
If you are experiencing BPH symptoms that are affecting your quality of life, such as losing sleep because you need to wake during the night to urinate, you are unable to urinate, you are unable to delay urination, have hesitancy, or a weak urine stream, check with your urologist to discuss if it is time to seek treatment.

BPH is not cancerous and is not life threatening, but it does create bothersome symptoms can significantly impact quality of life.

What Are the Long Term Risks of BPH?

If left untreated, BPH can progress and cause subsequent medical issues. When the bladder does not empty completely, you become at risk for developing urinary tract infections. Other serious problems can also develop over time, including bladder stones, blood in the urine (hematuria), incontinence, or urinary retention. In rare cases, bladder and/or kidney damage can develop from BPH.

What are the Treatment Options?

Based on the AUA Guidelines for the treatment of BPH, there are four recommended treatment options: Watchful Waiting, medications, in-office therapy, and surgery.

Are In-Office Therapies Safe?

Yes, these treatments are safe. UroLift has been cleared by the FDA to treat BPH. In-Office BPH Treatments are associated with few side effects and adverse events.

Are In-Office Therapies Effective?

Based on clinical studies, in office procedures is proven to be a safe, effective and durable option for BPH with very few side effects.

Are In-Office Therapies Covered By Insurance?

Medicare and many commercial insurance plans provide coverage for the UroLift procedure. Ask your doctor’s office to assist you by providing the information your insurance plan may require.

Do In-Office Therapies Hurt?

Some men describe the UroLift as causing some discomfort, while most men report no discomfort at all.

Will I need a catheter after the treatment?

Most patients will not need a catheter after the procedure.

Can I go home right after the procedure?
 Yes. You should arrange for someone to drive you home because you may have been given some medication to help you relax during the procedure. Your urologist will give you post-treatment instructions and prescriptions and explain the recovery period to you.

Bottom Line: BPH is a common problem and effective treatments are available.  For more answers, speak to your physician.

Complications of the Large Prostate Gland

October 21, 2016


The most common condition affecting millions of middle age American men is benign enlargement of the prostate gland.  This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. For reasons not entirely known, the prostate increases in size around age 50.  As the prostate gland grows, the gland compresses the urethra, which is the tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.

Over time, the growth causes the urethra to become so compressed that it becomes difficult for men to empty the bladder.   The symptoms associated with enlarged prostate gland include frequency of urination, urgency of urination, dribbling after urination and even the complete inability to urinate or allowing only a small amount of urine to exit the bladder.

Bladder stones are formed when crystals inside the bladder collect together and harden to form a stone.  They often occur when the bladder is not fully emptying, so the urine that is left behind remains in the bladder for long time and coalesce and form stones.

Symptoms of bladder stones include frequent urination throughout the day, lower abdominal pain, a burning sensation when urinating, urine that appears cloudy or contains blood, and urgency of urination.

Urinary retention is the inability to fully empty your bladder. Acute urinary retention is a medical emergency, so it does require immediate medical attention.

There are two main types of urinary retention.  If there is an obstruction such as a bladder or kidney stone, then urine cannot properly be released, resulting in urine remaining in the bladder after urination. In this case, urinary retention can be life threatening, and you will require immediate medical intervention and the insertion of a catheter to relieve the blockage.

The most common cause of acute urinary retention is the enlarged prostate which compresses the urethra or the tube from the bladder that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.

Non-obstructive urinary retention is caused by the weakening of the bladder muscles or nerve problems disrupting the communication between the bladder and the brain. Causes of non-obstructive urinary retention include stroke, pelvic injury or trauma, nerve diseases, impaired muscle or nerve function, and spinal cord injury that affects the nerves to the bladder.

Chronic urinary retention mainly affects men as a result of prostate enlargement. Although the condition is not life threatening, it can lead to permanent kidney damage. In chronic urinary retention, a man is unable to fully void their bladder, so urine stays within the bladder, increasing the risk of urinary tract infections.

Symptoms of chronic urinary retention include urinary frequency, urgency and hesitancy, nighttime urination, symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection, and lethargy and emotional irritability.

Urinary tract infections are often associated with urinary retention. Symptoms include cloudy or foul-smelling urine, blood in urine, difficulty urinating, pain while urinating, nausea, vomiting, shaking and chills, and fever.

Hematuria, or blood in urine, is frequently a benign condition, but there may be a risk of a more serious condition, too. For men with documented blood in the urine which is confirmed by a urine examination, you will will need some additional testing such as urine culture, a radiologic examination of the kidneys, and a cystoscopy or a look in the bladder with a lighted tube.

As the bladder retains urine, it continues to stretch. Excess stretching weakens the bladder muscles, making it impossible for the bladder to contract.  If this is left untreated, then permanent damage to the bladder muscle will occur and even if the obstruction is relieved the bladder muscle cannot contract and the man may be left with a permanent urinary catheter or may have to catherize himself several times a day.

Bottom Line: Every man over age 50 should see his doctor every year to check his prostate and to obtain a PSA blood test which is a screening test for prostate cancer.  Nearly every man can be treated with either medications or minimally invasive procedures that can often be done in the doctor’s office.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) In Men

September 28, 2016

UTIs are just a problem for young women.  Although UTIs are more common in young women, men, too, are not immune to infections of the urinary tract.  One of the most common infections in middle age and older men are urinary tract infections.

Older men (such as, men 70 years and older) are at somewhat higher risk for UTIs because of problems going to the bathroom and/or emptying the bladder. Older post-menopausal women are also at a greater risk for UTIs due to lower amounts of vaginal estrogen, which can change the vaginal climate. The normal flora, ‘good bacteria,’ are looked at as ‘good’ because they kill off other types of bacteria that can cause UTIs. Good bacteria can only grow in slightly acidic vaginal climates and this needs some estrogen. Systemic estrogen replacement options like pills and skin patches do not help with this problem, but vaginal estrogen therapy can be helpful for certain individuals. Talk to your doctor to see if this is a choice for you.

Often, older adults can help stop UTIs by staying hydrated, using the bathroom and getting routine health exams to screen for health problems like high blood sugar that puts you at higher risk for getting a UTI. If you or a loved one wears adult diapers, it’s very important to keep the genital area clean and to change them often.

Other Groups at High-Risk for UTIs

People with high blood sugar and vesicoureteral reflux are at higher risk of getting a UTI. Vesicoureteral reflux is when urine goes backwards from the bladder toward the kidney. Over time, this reflux of infected urine may raise a person’s risk for kidney damage. Vesicoureteral reflux is usually seen in children with UTIs compared to adults. Additionally, some patients with kidney stones and indwelling catheters may also be a higher risk for getting a UTI. An indwelling catheter is a hollow tube that is placed into the bladder through the urethra and left inside your body. The catheter drains urine from your bladder into a bag outside of your body. A catheter-associated UTI happens when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the catheter and cause an infection.

How UTIs are Diagnosed

In most cases, if you think you have a UTI, you should visit a health care provider and give a urine sample for testing. A urinalysis is a test that looks for white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria, and or other chemicals such as nitrites in your urine. A proper urinalysis can pinpoint an infection and a urine culture can help your health care provider choose the best antibiotic for treatment. It is vital to get a urinalysis and culture performed to make sure you have an infection and require care. Use of antibiotics when not needed, can be tricky, and can lead to greater rates of bacterial antibiotic resistance.

It should be noted that some individuals get a urinalysis result that shows bacteria, but the individuals are not having any symptoms of a UTI. This event is common in older adults. If the individual has bacteria in their urine, but has no symptoms, treatment is not right. Treatment should be given to individuals who have bacteria and associated UTI symptoms.

In closing, it should be noted that studies on cranberry juice and linked supplements are mixed. Some studies show that cranberry supplements can be helpful and other studies show that they don’t help stop UTIs before they happen. Be sure to read about the pros and cons of cranberry products, and decide if they’re right for you. For now, practice these tips to lower your risk of getting a UTI.

Tips for Preventing UTIs

  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Urinate often.
  3. Don’t hold it.
  4. Keep your genital area clean.
  5. Empty your bladder before and after sex


Bottom Line:  UTIs are common in men and women.  Men after age 70 are at a risk for UTIs.  The symptoms are burning on urination, frequency of urination, passing cloudy urine, and even blood in the urine.  The diagnosis is easily made with a physical examination, a urine exam, and occasionally other imaging studies.  Treatment with antibiotics is usually effective.

PSA Testing for Prostate Cancer-To Screen or Not to Screen That is the Question

September 28, 2016

Today, nothing is more confusing for men than the concept of screening for prostate cancer.  Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, following lung cancer, and there are 250,000 men each year diagnosed with prostate cancer and causes nearly 30,000 deaths a year.  About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

But some prostate cancers develop slowly, and, as the disease is more common in elderly men, most men with prostate cancer die with it and not from it. Thus, screening, diagnosis and treatment of the disease are controversial.

There is no consensus about prostate cancer screening as early diagnosis can be associated with very bothersome side effects such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.  Also screening has not been universally shown to increase survival or decrease the death rate from prostate cancer.  This article will discuss the pros and cons of PSA screening for men.

Men who opt for screening undergo a digital rectal exam and a blood draw to measure a chemical called PSA or prostate specific antigen. This level of PSA can be increased in men with prostate cancer. Other conditions may cause the increase in the PSA such as benign enlargement of the prostate gland and prostate infections.

The best way to detect an early potentially deadly case is to collect yearly PSA tests over three to five years so trends can be assessed.

I like most other urologists are concerned about over treatment of prostate cancer — in other words, being too aggressive in using surgery or radiation when a small amount of potentially slow-growing cancer is found on a biopsy.

The federal government has also become concerned about this issue. A large medical research trial called the Prostate Lung Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Study released results from 2009 showing no benefit from screening for prostate cancer when comparing a large group of unscreened men to a large group of aggressively screened men.

Researchers across the country are assessing the effects of the USPSTF recommendations on prostate cancer mortality since 2012. In a recent study from Northwestern University in Chicago, researchers found a significant increase in the cases of advanced prostate cancer already spread to other parts of the body from 2004 to 2013. As a result we could be missing serious cancers because of decreased screening.

Prostate cancer also has a hereditary predilection and men with a father, brother, cousin, or uncle should consider having screening around age 40.  This also applies to African-American men who have a greater risk of prostate cancer than Caucasian men and should also have testing after age 40.

My best advice is to ask your doctor\urologist about the decision to undergo prostate cancer screening.

Turing On Your Laptop May Turn Off Your Sperm Count

September 28, 2016

Go onto any college campus or into any Starbucks and you see nearly every person pecking away on their computers.  Some men will balance their laptop computers on their laps.  As a result the heat from the laptop raise a man’s scrotal temperature a very small amount.  This small elevation of temperature, if done often enough, may decrease a man’s sperm count.

Elevated scrotal temperatures have been linked to poor sperm counts according to a study at New York University.  Other situations that can raise scrotal temperatures including hot baths, saunas, and the wearing of tight jockey shorts.

The study which was reported in the Journal of Human Reproduction measured the scrotal temperature every three minutes between men holding computers on their laps which were turned on and men holding computers which were left in the off position. Those men holding a working lap top computer had a 5 degrees Fahrenheit increase in scrotal temperature.  Also noted was that men with their thighs held close together had the greatest increase in scrotal temperature. The researchers concluded that “Working on laptop computers in a laptop position causes significant scrotal temperature elevation as a result of heat exposure and posture-related effects.”

The main question is the increase in temperature enough to impair male fertility? The researchers didn’t conclude the connection between laptop use and sperm counts. However, the authors noted that another study showed that sperm concentration dropped by 40% when median daytime scrotal temperature rose by 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bottom Line:  I know for sure that more heat to the scrotal area is going to be deleterious for sperm production.  Therefore, I suggest that young men or men in the fertility age group may want to limit their use of laptop computers on their laps.

UTIs-Natural Solutions For Prevention

September 6, 2016

UTIs affect millions of men and women impacting their quality of life and may even affect their kidneys. Fortunately, most of these infections are uncomfortable with symptoms of burning on urination, frequency of urination, and back and pelvic pain. This article will discuss the usefulness of cranberry juice which may serve as an effective treatment to prevent recurrent UTIs.

A recent study reported in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aug. 2015 showed that cranberry pills (two capsules twice daily, equivalent to two 8-ounce servings of cranberry juice daily) cut the rate of UTIs in half.

Also there is supplement, D-mannose, can also help to reduce recurrent UTIs. Another study found good results from a combination of cranberry and d-mannose.

D-mannose is filtered through your kidneys and concentrated in your bladder and coats the bacteria causing the infections and renders them unable to stay in your urinary tract.

More than 90 percent of all UTIs are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is normally found in your intestinal tract. Problems only arise when this ordinary bacterium is present in high numbers in places where it shouldn’t be—like your urinary system.

Although antibiotics are an effective means of eradicating bacteria within the urinary tract, antibiotics need to be used with caution. Antibiotics are not selective and they kill the pathogenic bacteria in the urinary tract but also kill the good bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics and with the removal of bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract there is a risk of other infections such as vaginal infections, fungal infections and side effects like diarrhea.

Bottom Line: UTIs are so very common and affect millions of American men and women. Cranberry juice and D-mannose may be a solution to preventing recurrent infections. If you have any questions about recurrent UTIs, speak to your physician.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Women

September 4, 2016

Perhaps one of the most common infections in all women and young girls are UTIs.  Nearly 50% of all women will experience a UTI during their lifetime.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in the U.S. In fact, UTIs are the second most common type of infection in the body and are the reason for more than 8 million visits to the doctor each year. About 50% of all women will develop at UTI during their lifetime.

Most UTIs involve the bladder (cystitis) are not serious, but some can lead to serious problems like kidney infections. The most common care or treatment for a UTI is antibiotics. Signs of a UTI involve pain or burning when you pass urine, urine that looks cloudy or smells bad, pressure in your lower abdomen, and an urge to go to the bathroom often. You can get a UTI at any age, but there are peak times in life when they are more common.

Many women report UTIs following sexual activity. Another peak time for UTIs in women is after menopause. This is because of lower vaginal estrogen levels. Lower estrogen levels make it easier for bacteria to grow. A woman’s urethra or the tube from the bladder to the outside of the body is very short, about two inches in length compared to man’s urethra which is 8-10 inches long. This short length makes it easy for bacteria to enter a woman’s bladder. The opening of a woman’s urethra is near the rectum and vagina which happen to be two common places where bacteria dwell.

Prevention of UTIs in women may be as simple as instructing women to wipe from front to back following urination and bowel movements. This helps cut the chance of spreading bacteria from the anus to the urethra.

For women who notice more UTIs after sexual activity, I will often recommend that women take a low dose antibiotic shortly before or right after sexual activity.

Bottom Line: UTIs are common in women.  Most of these infections are not serious and can be treated with a short course of antibiotics.  For women with chronic or repeated infections, low dose antibiotics may be helpful.