UTI Leaflet - Women Under 65 Years

UTI Leaflet - Women Under 65 HTML

Target: Keep antibiotics working logo with four pills making a target sign

For women under 65 years with suspected lower urinary tract infections (UTIs) or lower recurrent UTIs (cystitis or urethritis)


What is a urine infection?

A urine infection occurs when bacteria in any part of the urine system cause symptoms.

If a urine test finds bacteria but you are otherwise well, do not worry, this is common, and antibiotics are not usually needed. However, severe urine infections can be life threatening.

Diagram of kidneys, bladder and urethra, with kidneys labelled a, bladder labelled b, and urethra labelled c

a. Kidneys make urine

b. Bladder stores urine

c. Urethra takes urine out of the body

Possible urinary signs and symptoms

Key signs/symptoms

  • Dysuria: Burning pain when passing urine (wee)
  • New nocturia: Needing to pass urine in the night
  • Cloudy urine: Visible cloudy colour when passing urine

Other signs/symptoms to consider

  • Frequency: Passing urine more often than usual
  • Urgency: Feeling the need to pass urine immediately
  • Haematuria: Blood in your urine
  • Suprapubic pain: Pain in your lower tummy

Other things to consider

Recent sexual history

  • Inflammation due to sexual activity can feel similar to the symptoms of a UTI
  • Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have symptoms similar to those of a UTI

Changes during menopause

  • Some changes during the menopause can have symptoms similar to those of a UTI

The outcome

Non-pregnant women
Pregnant women

COVID-19 specific advice

If you think you may have COVID-19 then please visit GOV.UK's coronavirus section and the NHS for the latest guidance and information.

Speak to NHS111, a pharmacist or your GP if you are worried about COVID-19.

When should you get help?

Contact your GP practice or contact NHS

Phone for advice if you are not sure how urgent the symptoms are.

  1. You have shivering, chills and muscle pain
  2. You feel confused, or are very drowsy
  3. You have not passed urine all day
  4. You are vomiting
  5. You see blood in your urine
  6. Your temperature is above 38°C* or less than 36°C
  7. You have kidney pain in your back just under the ribs
  8. Your symptoms get worse
  9. Your symptoms are not starting to improve within 48 hours of taking antibiotics

Self-care to help yourself get better more quickly

  • Drink enough fluids to stop you feeling thirsty. Aim to drink 6 to 8 glasses
  • Avoid too much alcohol, fizzy drinks or caffeine that can irritate your bladder
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen at regular intervals for pain relief, if you have had no previous side effects
  • There is currently no evidence to support taking cranberry products or cystitis sachets to improve your symptoms
  • Consider the risk factors in the ‘Options to help prevent UTI’ column to reduce future UTIs

Options to help prevent a UTI

It may help you to consider these risk factors:

  • Stop bacteria spreading from your bowel into your bladder. Wipe from front (vagina) to back (bottom) after using the toilet
  • Avoid waiting to pass urine. Pass urine as soon as you need to
  • Go for a wee after having sex to flush out any bacteria that may be near the opening to the urethra
  • Wash the external vagina area with water before and after sex to wash away any bacteria that may be near the opening to the urethra
  • Drink enough fluids to make sure you wee regularly throughout the day, especially during hot weather

If you have a recurrent UTI, the following may help:

  • Cranberry products and D-mannose: There is some evidence to say that these work to help prevent recurrent UTI
  • After the menopause: Topical hormonal treatment may help; for example, vaginal pessaries
  • Antibiotics at night or after sex may be considered

Antibiotic resistance

  1. Antibiotics can be lifesaving. But antibiotics are not always needed for urinary symptoms
  2. Antibiotics taken by mouth, for any reason, affect our gut bacteria making some resistant
  3. This may make future UTI more difficult to treat
  4. Common side effects to taking antibiotics include thrush, rashes, vomiting and diarrhoea. Seek medical advice if you are worried
  5. Keep antibiotics working; only take them when advised by a health professional. This way they are more likely to work for a future UTI

About this leaflet

TARGET is operated by the UK Health Security Agency. Developed in collaboration with professional medical bodies. 

Version: 23.5
Published: October 2017
Review: October 2021