In women, E. coli bacteria often travel from the anus to the urethra due to the short distance between the openings, according to UCSF Medical Center. E. coli is responsible for around 90 percent of all urinary tract infections.
E. coli normally lives in the intestinal tract, but certain activities, such as wiping from the back to the front after a bowel movement, may introduce the bacteria to the urethra, as stated by UCSF Medical Center. Sexual intercourse can also increase a woman's chance of becoming infected, as confirmed by Mayo Clinic. To diagnose an E. coli urinary tract infection, doctors may analyze a urine sample, grow a bacterial culture from urine in a lab, use imaging tests to view the urinary tract, or perform a cystoscopy to see inside of the bladder.
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include pain during urination, the frequent need to urinate, lower abdominal pain and abnormally colored urine, as confirmed by UCSF Medical Center. Patients are normally prescribed a seven-day antibiotic course for the E. coli infection, but more severe cases may require a 10- or 14-day course. Patients may also receive pyridium to relieve bladder pain until the antibiotics can clear the infection.