A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop
urinary tract infections
(UTI) with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing a UTI. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Sexual intercourse increases your risk of UTIs.
The following medical conditions increase your chances of getting UTIs:
Urinary tract anatomical abnormalitiesUrine flowing back up the ureter into the kidney—vesicoureteral refluxDiabetesWeakened immune systemKidney stonesEnlarged prostate glandBody paralysis—paraplegia
kidney transplantSickle cell anemiaMenopauseNervous system disorders that make it difficult for you to completely empty your bladderPregnancy
For females—using a diaphragm for birth control or having a partner who uses condoms with spermicidal foamHaving a urinary catheter insertedHaving surgery on the urinary tract
Taking antibiotics for other conditions can increase your risk of getting a UTI.
The rate of UTIs increases with age in both men and women.
Women have a high rate of UTIs throughout their lives, because the openings to the urethra and rectum are in close proximity. Also, the urethra is shorter in women than in men. The risk of UTIs increases even further after menopause in women and after age 50 in men.
Researchers are still trying to understand whether certain genetic factors might make someone more prone to UTIs. It does seem that if a mother has a history of multiple UTIs, then the daughter will be more likely to have UTIs, as well. There are also some factors related to blood type that increase the risk for UTIs.
Urinary tract infections in adults. American Urological Association Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults. Accessed September 12, 2016.
Urinary tract infections in adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults/Pages/facts.aspx. Updated May 2012. Accessed September 12, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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