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A guide to urinary tract disorders

Urinary tract disorders

Did you know that urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common infections, affecting 40% of women and around 12% of men during their lifetime?

From the causes and symptoms to receiving a diagnosis and accessing treatment – read our article to tame your troublesome urinary tract.

What is a UTI?

Your urinary tract system includes your bladder, urethra (prostatic urethra if you’re a man) and kidneys. If bacteria (often E coli) enter your bladder through your urethra which is like a waterpipe, your urinary tract could become infected and cause a UTI.

Urinary tract infections are less common in men than in women, partly because the male urethra (waterpipe) means any bacteria must travel a longer distance to reach the bladder. 10 in 25 women will experience a UTI in their lifetime compared with three in 25 men (healthline).

Who is most likely to develop a UTI?

There are factors that can make it more likely for you to develop a UTI such as:

  • Pregnancy (in women)
  • Having sex
  • Postmenopause (in women)
  • Urinary catheters
  • Prostate problems (in men) - also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), this can make it difficult to fully empty the bladder which raises the risk of an infection
  • Diabetes
  • A weakened immune system due to another health condition
  • Not drinking enough water

What urinary tract disorders can cause UTIs?

You may have a urinary tract disorder that is causing you to develop frequent UTIs. These include:

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are caused by infection and high calcium levels in your blood and can block your urinary tract.

Frequent bladder or kidney infections

Infections affecting the bladder (cystitis) are usually caused by bacteria and sometimes they can spread to the kidneys by travelling up your urethra.


Struggling with involuntary urine leaks or frequently needing to urinate can not only be distressing but it can also cause infections.

What are the symptoms of a urinary infection?

The symptoms of your UTI can range in severity and can change depending on where it is. If you have a bladder infection you may have:

  • Pain in your lower tummy and/or pain in your waterpipe
  • A pressing, urgent need to pee
  • Passing urine frequently
  • Smelly and bloodstained urine
  • Feeling of general tiredness

If you’re experiencing a kidney infection, you’ll have some if not all of the above symptoms plus a fever, shaking, chills, confusion, smelly urine, back pain and a pain in your kidney. If you suspect you have a kidney infection, they’re a lot more serious, so book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

Is thrush related to UTIs?

Both men and women can develop thrush, a common yeast infection which presents itself in men with the following symptoms:

  • Unpleasant smell
  • Difficulty pulling back your foreskin
  • Burning, redness and irritation around the head of your penis and under your foreskin
  • White discharge

Urinary tract infections and yeast infections are different, but you may be experiencing both at the same time. Taking antibiotics to treat a UTI can lead to a yeast infection so it’s important to keep track of your symptoms so that it doesn’t develop into a more serious infection.

Tame your urinary tract today

Access our men’s health and women’s health hubs for more top tips and advice or, if you’re struggling with uncomfortable urinary symptoms, our discreet treatments and expert caring teams can help with a range of urological conditions.

Waiting too long to see your local GP? Book a 25-minute face-to-face appointment with one of our private GPs to discuss your urinary symptoms using our online booking tool, via Livechat or by calling us on 01580 363158.

Published on 22 September 2023