What is urinary tract infection (UTI) in pregnancy?
UTI is an infection of the urinary tract which includes your bladder, ureter (tube connecting your bladder to the kidney) and kidneys
Is it common to have UTI in pregnancy?
UTI is common in women between the ages of 20 – 50 years old. During pregnancy, women are more susceptible to get UTI. This is due to the changes that occur in pregnancy such as relaxation of the ureter muscle caused by the progesterone hormone and the enlarging uterus which compresses the ureter that could slow down the flow of urine to the bladder. This stagnant urine may promote growth of bacteria in the urine.
Could it be dangerous to have UTI in pregnancy?
Yes, it may be dangerous to have UTI especially if it is not treated. Possible consequences include:
- Kidney infection (pyelonephritis) leading to damage.
- Overwhelming infection of the blood (sepsis) which could be life threatening
- Premature contraction and labour.
- Growth restriction of your baby.
What are the possible symptoms of UTI in pregnancy?
- You may have no symptoms at all
- Burning and painful sensation when passing urine
- Frequent need to go to the toilet to pass urine
- Uncontrollable urge to go to the toilet to pass urine
- Bloody and cloudy urine
- Lower abdominal pain
- Back pain and Fever (may indicate kidney infection)
- Nausea and vomiting
How is UTI diagnosed?
If you have the symptoms above your doctor may test your urine to check for any evidence of UTI such as the presence of white cells, blood or bacteria.
What are the treatment for UTI in pregnancy?
Antibiotics are usually given to treat UTI in pregnancy. There are certain antibiotics which are not suitable during pregnancy. Ask your doctor about this. In addition, there is another effective medicine which is safe for the treatment of UTI in pregnancy that is lactose and sugar free called Hiprex.
I have no symptoms, but my doctor says that there are bacteria in my urine.
This is called asymptomatic bacteriuria. This condition needs to be treated as 30% of cases may lead to the urine infection spreading from the bladder up to the kidneys.
How could I reduce my risk of getting UTI?
- Drink a lot of water
- Empty your bladder completely when you go to the toilet
- Wear cotton knickers instead of tights
- Practice good hygiene
- After going to the toilet, wipe yourself from front to the back. This avoids bacteria from your back passage being spread to your front passage.
- Go to the toilet to empty your bladder before and after having sexual intercourse
I heard that drinking cranberry juice is good to prevent UTI. Is that true?
Yes, if you frequently suffer from UTI, studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice could be helpful in reducing the level of bacteria in your urine and prevent UTI from developing.1
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1. Jepson RG, Craig JC 2008. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infection. Cochrane Database of systematic Reviews, Issue 1, Art. No: CD001321. DOI:10.1002/14651858. CD001321.pub. The Cochrane Library.