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 Activity

Frequent sexual intercourse increases your risk of UTIs. Having unprotected sex raises the risk further.

Medical Conditions

The following medical conditions increase your chances of getting UTIs:

  • Urinary tract anatomical defects
  • Urine washing back up the ureter into the kidney—vesicoureteral reflux
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened immune system
  • Kidney stones
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Body paralysis—paraplegia or quadriplegia
  • History of kidney transplant
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Menopause
  • Nervous system disorders that make it difficult for you to completely empty your bladder
  • Pregnancy
  • Medical Devices and Procedures

  • For females—using a diaphragm for birth control or having a partner who uses condoms with spermicidal foam
  • Having a urinary catheter inserted
  • Having surgery on the urinary tract
  • Medications

    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.

    Genetic Factors

    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.