What is a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)?

“A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system, your kidneys, ureters, bladder & urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract – the bladder & the urethra.
Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI. Infection limited to your bladder can be painful, & serious consequences can occur if a UTI spreads to your kidneys” [1], to that end, it is crucial to make an appointment with a Vulvodynia Consultant as soon as possible

So What Type of Signs & Symptoms Should I Look Out For?

It is important to know that UTIs do not always generate signs and symptoms, however, the ones that are known, include:

•A strong, urgent need to pass water
•Feeling a burning sensation whilst urinating
•Frequently passing small amounts of urine
•Passing strong-smelling urine
•Producing cloudy urine
•Producing cola-coloured, bright pink or red urine (which indicates blood in the urine)
•Pain in the pelvis. In women, this is particularly apparent at the centre of the pelvis, and around the pubic bone region [1].

Are there Different Types of Urinary Tract Infections?

The answer to this, is ‘yes.’ And as your Vulvodynia Specialist will explain to you, each type of infection can generate specific signs and symptoms that are inline with where the urinary tract infection actually is. These include:

The Kidneys
• Back or side pain
• Vomiting
• Nausea
• Chills and shaking
• High fever

The Bladder (Cystitis)
• Pressure on the pelvis
• Discomfort in the lower abdomen
• Persistent, painful urination
• Blood in urine

Urethra (Urethritis)

• A feeling of burning whist urinating
• A discharge [1].

So What Causes a Urinary Tract Infection?

Generally speaking, UTIs come about when bacteria get into the urinary tract via the urethra, and and colonise in the bladder. And while the urinary system has defences in place against these unwelcome microscopic invaders, they are not always successful. Indeed, if the latter occurs, the bacteria can easily take over, and evolve into a full-blown infection of the urinary tract [1].

The Most Common Urinary Tract Infections

•Cystitis (infection of the bladder): this is normally the result of E. coli, a form of unhealthy bacteria which is generally found in the GI (gastrointestinal tract). However, it can also come about from other types of bacteria
•Sexual intercourse: this can also result in cystitis (even though women don’t have to be sexually active to develop it).
•Urethritis: infection of the urethra. This form of urinary tract infection can be due to the spread of GI bacteria from the anus to the urethra. Further, as a woman’s urethra is near the vagina, STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and herpes, can generate urethritis [1].


[1]. Mayo Clinic (2021). “Urinary Tract Infection.”