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What are common causes of urinary tract infections?

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Quick Answer

Urinary tract infections typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary system via the urethra, multiplying in the bladder, states Healthline. Viruses and fungi can also cause UTIs, and these infections affect any part of the urinary system.

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Urinary tract infections are more prevalent in women, reports Mayo Clinic. The urethras in women are shorter than in men, meaning that the distance that the bacteria travel to reach the bladder is also shorter. The risk of UTIs is also higher in sexually active women, as well as those women who use spermicidal agents and diaphragms for birth control. Reduction in estrogen, such as after menopause, results in some changes in the urinary tract, making women more venerable to infections.

Blockages in the urinary tract from an enlarged prostate in men and kidney stones can trap urine in the bladder, explains Mayo Clinic. This blockage, as well as urinary tract abnormalities, which interfere with how urine leaves the body, can increase the risk of UTIs. Other risk factors include impairment of the immune system, catheter use and urinary surgery.

Cystitis is a type of UTI characterized by bladder pressure, pain during orgasm in men, pain during sex in women and the need to urinate often, explains WebMD. Urethritis is another type, and symptoms include urethra inflammation, difficulty starting urination and blood in the semen in men.

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