Recurrent urinary infections. This is extremely common in women due to a urethra (the canal carries off the urine from the bladder) of only three centimeters in length and its proximity to the vagina and rectum. Occasional urinary infections (burning with urination, urinary frequency, and pain as the bladder fills) are easily treated with antibiotics for 3 – 7 days. RECURRENT urinary infections often need to be treated with urinary antiseptics, prophylactic antibiotics and/or vaginal hormones in post menopausal women. Diagnostic procedures may include a cystoscopy and renal ultrasound or a computed tomography (CT) scan to exclude other causes.

Women with recurrent urinary tract infections (at least two UTIs in 6 months, or three UTIs in 1 year) often are treated with antibiotics to prevent future UTIs. Preventive strategies include:

Continuous low-dose antibiotics, often used for women who have more than three UTIs a year. This approach effectively prevents UTIs as long as you are taking the antibiotics. But after you stop taking the medicine, you are likely to have another UTI.

Antibiotics taken after sexual intercourse, used for women who tend to get UTIs after sex. Depending on how often you have sex, this may result in taking fewer antibiotics and may cost less than continuous, low-dose therapy.

Antibiotics when you first start symptoms. This is most often used for women who have fewer than three UTIs a year. In this case, your doctor gives you a standing prescription for antibiotics. Whenever you have symptoms of a UTI, you can fill the prescription and begin taking the antibiotics without first seeing your doctor.

Preventive antibiotics also are a treatment option for:

  • Pregnant women who had recurrent UTIs before getting pregnant or during pregnancy.
  • People who have spinal cord injuries or other nervous system conditions that affect urination.
  • People who have had a kidney transplant.
  • People who are going to have surgery involving the urinary tract.