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How does E. coli get into the urine?

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E. coli can get into urine when it enters the urethral opening or when it breaches the bladder’s natural defenses, according to Everyday Health. As of 2012, E. coli was responsible for more than 85 percent of urinary tract infections in the United States, according to a report cited in Everyday Health.

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Women are four times more likely to get E. coli infections than men, in part because the opening of the anus is so close to the opening of the vagina in a female's anatomy, states Everyday Health. In fact, there’s a 50 percent chance of a woman having at least one urinary tract infection in her lifetime. Women must practice good hygiene when cleaning up after bowel movements. Practicing good hygiene can also prevent sexual transmission of E. coli, which can be present on the skin and in the vagina during and after intercourse.

Normally, E. coli is confined to the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, the kidneys and bladder act as natural filters to remove such toxins when they’re ingested in food and drink. However, E. coli can travel to the bladder and cause infection even in an otherwise healthy person, explains EverydayHealth. The body’s defenses sometimes simply miss. Other times, E. coli infection can occur when the bladder catches the bacteria but does not flush it out because of dehydration.

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