Odds are you'll get a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point. Most women do. But why does this happen? Can you prevent it? UTIs come with lots of questions. It helps to know the answers so you can get the right treatment and keep the infection from coming back. Get the facts about this very common infection. How did I get a urinary tract infection? There are many ways to develop a UTI. Typical culprits are bacteria that entered your urinary tract through the urethra. That's the narrow tube that urine passes through on its way out of your body. Bacteria can enter the urethra in many ways. Having sexual intercourse is one way. So is holding urine for too long. And, wiping from back to front instead of front to back can let fecal matter in. Is a UTI serious? In general, UTIs are simple infections, but they do need treatment. Left untreated, the bacterial infection can spread to your kidneys. This can cause serious and sometimes permanent kidney damage. It is very important to see a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment for a UTI if you have any symptoms. What are the symptoms of a UTI? The most common symptoms are pain when you urinate and needing to urinate often. Then, when you try to urinate, only a small amount comes out. You may also feel burning when you urinate. Your urine may have a strong, unpleasant smell. Or, it might look cloudy or discolored—sometimes pink, red or brown. I'm pregnant and have a UTI. Should I be worried? UTIs tend to be more common during pregnancy. That's why your doctor will often test your urine during prenatal visits. But, don’t wait to see your doctor if you start to notice UTI symptoms. Untreated UTIs during pregnancy can cause problems. They can lead to delivering your baby too early. Or, your baby could have a low birth weight. You could also develop high blood pressure during your pregnancy. UTIs in pregnant women are also more likely to spread to the kidneys. I have a fever. Is this normal? A urinary tract infection can sometimes cause a low-grade fever, usually less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. A higher fever might mean that you have a more serious UTI that has turned into a kidney infection. Other symptoms of a kidney infection include back pain, severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, chills, and shaking. These are all signs you should contact your doctor right away—even if you're already getting treated. How will my doctor diagnose a UTI? You will provide a sample of your urine at your doctor's office. Your doctor will test the urine for signs of bacteria. If you get UTIs often, you might need more testing—such as imaging tests— to figure out why this is happening. How can I treat a UTI? Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the UTI. It is very important to take all of your antibiotics as directed to make sure the infection is completely cleared. If you experience painful urination, your doctor may give you other medication to make you more comfortable. Am I likely to get another UTI? Most women have more than one urinary tract infection over the course of their lives. However, you may be able to take steps to prevent them if you can pinpoint situations that cause them. Examples include feeling irritation after sex with a condom or after taking a bubble bath. If you get UTIs very often, talk with your doctor about taking a low-dose antibiotic regularly, possibly daily, to help prevent them.