Urinary Tract Infection Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system, which can affect the bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis), or kidneys (pyelonephritis).

Up to 6 in 10 women will experience a UTI in the United States. Of those women, about 1 in 4 will experience a repeat infection.

This article highlights important facts and statistics you should know about UTIs. 

Woman with a UTI

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Urinary Tract Infection Overview 

A UTI occurs when bacteria enter the urinary system, leading to inflammation and infection. The urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.

Urinary tract infections are the second most common infection in the body. Symptoms include pain or burning with urination, fever, lower back pain, and an urge to urinate frequently.

How Common Are Urinary Tract Infections?

Urinary tract infections are common in women. It’s estimated that up to 6 in 10 U.S. women will experience a UTI in their lifetime.

The risk is much lower for men. In men under age 50, about 5 to 8 out of 10,000 experience a UTI each year. In their lifetime, men have a 13,000 to 14,000 out of 100,000 chance of having a UTI. The risk of UTI increases for both men and women with increasing age. 

Urinary Tract Infections by Ethnicity

Research shows people view UTI symptoms differently based on their ethnicity. One study found White participants were more likely than other groups to see their UTI symptoms as a normal part of aging. White participants were less likely to seek medical care because they saw their symptoms as normal. 

However, Black participants felt they were having UTI symptoms because of lifestyle factors like what and how much they drank and their exercise routines. Most Black participants had not sought medical care because they felt their symptoms were under their control and didn’t require treatment. 

Also, in the study, Hispanic participants felt uncertain about what was causing their UTI symptoms. They were also more likely to worry that their symptoms meant something was wrong. Interestingly, the Hispanic participants were also unlikely to seek medical care.

Urinary Tract Infections by Age & Gender

UTIs are common in older adults. In the last year, more than 10% of women over 65 and about 30% of women over 85 have had a UTI.

Women get UTIs up to 30 times more often than men due to anatomical differences. The urethra is much shorter in women and the urethral opening is closer to the rectum, making it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract and grow.

UTI treatment also varies by gender. Most UTIs in women are considered simple infections and require three days of antibiotic therapy. In men, UTIs are usually complicated and require at least seven days of antibiotics.

Causes of Urinary Tract Infections and Risk Factors

UTIs are caused by a bacterial infection. Rarely a yeast infection can occur in the urinary tract. Risk factors for UTIs include:

  • Sexual activity: Sexual activity can move bacteria into the urethra in women.
  • Menopause: Low estrogen levels after menopause (the time marking the end of menstrual cycles) cause vaginal tissue to become thin and dry, making it easier for bacteria to collect and grow.
  • Indwelling catheter: A urinary catheter is a thin tube that sits in the urethra to empty the bladder. A catheter can grow bacteria when it is not cleaned and changed correctly. 
  • Diabetes: Diabetes is known to lower the body’s immune response to infections. It may also cause nerve damage, making it harder to fully empty the bladder.
  • Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy interrupt the balance of bacteria in the urinary tract, raising the risk of bacterial infection. A growing uterus can also make it harder to empty the bladder. When urine sits in the bladder, bacteria can collect and cause infection.
  • Birth control: Birth control methods like diaphragms and spermicides raise the risk of UTI. Spermicides kill the good bacteria that protect against infection.
  • Kidney disease: Any condition that blocks the flow of urine, such as kidney stones, raises the risk of UTI.

Screening and Early Detection of Urinary Tract Infections

Routine screening for UTIs is not necessary. If you develop symptoms such as pain or burning with urination, your healthcare provider will likely recommend the following tests:

  • Urine sample: Your provider may ask you to obtain a “clean catch” sample. This involves using a special wipe to clean the genital area, then collecting a sample of urine from midstream.
  • Urinalysis: A urinalysis examines the urine sample for red blood cells, white blood cells, and bacteria.
  • Urine culture: A urine culture determines the type of bacteria in the urine.

If you experience frequent UTIs, your healthcare provider may recommend a cystogram (an X-ray of the urinary tract) or a cystoscopic exam (a small tube placed in the urethra to visualize the inside of the urethra and bladder).


A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. It is common in women and much less common in men. It’s estimated that up to 6 in 10 women in the United States will experience a UTI.

In addition to age and gender, risk factors of UTIs include sexual activity, menopause, indwelling catheter, diabetes, pregnancy, spermicide use, and kidney disease. UTIs are usually diagnosed with a urinalysis and urine culture. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do women get more UTIs?

    Women are at increased risk of UTIs because their urethras are shorter than men’s and their urethral opening is closer to their rectum. These factors make it easier for bacteria to enter and multiply.

  • How do I know if I have a UTI?

    Common symptoms of UTIs include pain or burning with urination, fever, lower back pain, and an urge to urinate frequently. UTIs are bacterial infections that require antibiotic treatment. If you suspect that you have a UTI, see your healthcare provider. 

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Definition & facts of bladder infection in adults.

  3. Office on Women’s Health. Urinary tract infections.

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  5. MedlinePlus. Urinary tract infections.

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By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH, is a health writer with over a decade of experience working as a registered nurse. She has practiced in a variety of settings including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.