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Bladder Infection Causes & Risks


The urinary tract normally contains no microorganisms. However, sometimes bacteria or yeast from the lower gastrointestinal tract or rectal area enter the urinary tract, usually through the urethra (tube that allows urine to pass out from the bladder). When bacteria or yeast cling to the urethra, they can multiply and infect the urethra. They can then travel up and infect the bladder.

Most cases of cystitis are caused by bacteria from the rectal area. In women, the rectum and urethra are fairly close to each other. This makes it relatively easy for bacteria to make their way into the urethra. Some women develop cystitis after a period of frequent sexual intercourse. This happens because bacteria enter the urethra during sex and cause infection.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

Risk factors include:

  • Sex: female
  • Being sexually active
  • Using a diaphragm for birth control
  • Condom use—This may also increase infection rates in women, especially when Nonoxynol-9-coated condoms are used.
  • Menopause
  • Abnormalities of the urinary system, including vesicoureteral reflux or polycystic kidneys
  • Paraplegia and other neurologic conditions
  • Sickle-cell disease
  • History of kidney transplant
  • Diabetes type 1 and 2
  • Kidney stones
  • Enlarged prostate (in men)
  • Weak immune system
  • Bladder catheter in place, or recent instrumentation of the urinary system
  • Tight underwear and clothing
  • Chemicals in soaps, douches, and lubricants

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. Copyright © 2024 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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