Urinary Tract Infections: Fact vs. Fiction

Woman drinking water in kitchenBy Robert A. Poarch

For both men and women, if you have pain or burning when you urinate, it may be a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI occurs when bacteria gets into your urine and travels up into your bladder. Most UTIs can be easily taken care of. Because this tends to be an awkward subject to talk about, getting a straight answer can be difficult. So, here’s a look at four common UTI-related misconceptions:

1. UTIs are the same as yeast infections.

Though the symptoms are similar, UTIs and yeast infections are not the same. UTIs occur when you get bacteria into your urinary system, and antibiotics are usually prescribed for UTIs. Yeast infections occur when too much of the fungus Candida builds up on your skin, and antifungal medications are often used to treat yeast infections.

2. Only women can get UTIs.

According to the Urology Care Foundation, [1] while 60 percent of women have at least one UTI in their lifetime, 12 percent of men will have at least one UTI during their lifetime. Woman’s urethras are close to their vagina and anus, allowing for greater exposure of bacteria to travel via urine into the bladder, which can lead to infections.

3. If you get frequent UTIs, stop having sex.

Women are more likely to have a UTI after sex than men. For women, urinating before and especially after sexual activity helps get rid of UTI-causing bacteria. For women who have recurrent UTIs after sex, your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic to take after sex.

4. Cranberry juice can prevent UTIs.

Though the National Institutes of Health [2] (NIH) noted “studies in people who are at increased risk for UTIs or those who have had recurrent UTIs show that cranberry products decrease the risk of UTIs by about one-third,” they also claim that the results have been inconsistent and it isn’t an effective treatment for an existing UTI. Proven methods for preventing UTIs include:

See your doctor for any UTI symptom that is severe or concerning. Your doctor can determine if a UTI, yeast infection or another illness is causing your symptoms and determine the best treatment for you.


Reviewed by Brian Cohen, MD, MPH, FACS, a urologist with Mission Urology.

Mission Urology offers board-certified urologists with areas of expertise and specialized surgical training. We bring state-of-the-art care to our patients, including robotic surgery, urologic cancer care, kidney-stone treatment, female incontinence and pelvic surgery, men’s health and a variety of other urologic conditions. To learn more, call 828-254-8883 [3] or visit missionhealth.org/urology. [4]