Predominant risk factors for first urinary tract infections in college-aged women

LINTHICUM, MD, April 26, 2009-Increased sexual activity and alcohol consumption were associated with an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs), and college-aged women experiencing urinary frequency or urgency should seek medical care to treat what may be their first urinary tract infection (UTI), according to new research presented at the 104th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA).

From July 2001 through April 2005, researchers studied 181 women with their first UTI who presented to the student health care facility at the University of Florida. The control group consisted of 80 women attending the clinic without a UTI. A clinic nurse administered a survey that addressed lifestyle habits and dietary intake. Results showed that frequency and urgency were the most common symptom, and that UTIs were most commonly found in women who had increased sexual activity and recent alcohol consumption. The use of sanitary napkins during menstruation also increased the risk for a first-time UTI. Hesitating to urinate, direction of wiping and the use of tampons did not appear to correlate with increased UTI risk. Co-existing chlamydia, gonorrhea and yeast infections did not contribute significantly to urinary symptoms.

“If you are experiencing urinary frequency and urgency, you should seek medical attention,” said Anthony Y. Smith, MD, an AUA spokesman. “A woman experiencing her first UTI might not recognize these symptoms immediately. But, medical attention is necessary because UTIs can lead to kidney infection and even sepsis. So, it is important for women who notice these symptoms to seek medical attention.”

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