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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:

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.

Age

The rate of UTIs increases with age in both men and women.

Gender

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.

References:

Acute cystitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated August 31, 2012. Accessed August 13, 2012.

Griffith’s 5-Minute Clinical Consult . Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2001.

Urinary tract infections in adults. American Urological Association Foundation website. http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=47 . Accessed September 11, 2012.

Urinary tract infections in adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/utiadult/ . Updated May 24, 2012. Accessed September 11, 2012.



Last reviewed September 2014 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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