What’s a UTI? How Do I Know If I Have One?


What’s a UTI? How Do I Know If I Have One?

A UTI stands for a Urinary Tract Infection. It’s a type of infection in your bladder, urethra, and sometimes kidneys. It’s easier to get a UTI if you have a vagina or front hole. This is because people with vaginas or front holes have shorter urethras. UTIs are curable and are treated with antibiotics.

UTIs can be painful and some people might get them often. If you have one it might feel like you have to pee all the time and burn when you pee. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to make it less likely you’ll get a UTI.

What is a UTI?

A UTI is a common bacterial infection in someone’s bladder, urethra, and sometimes kidneys. A urethra is the tube that connects your bladder to the hole where you pee, the urethral opening. It’s the tube that pee comes out of.

If you have a UTI you might have some uncomfortable or painful symptoms. Some of these can be:

  • Feeling like you have to pee often but only a few drops come out
  • Burning feeling when you pee
  • Blood or a strong smell in your pee
  • Soreness, cramping or a full feeling in your bladder, stomach, lower back or sides

UTIs can get serious if they’re not treated. If you ever feel nauseous, start vomiting, or get a fever and chills doctors say you should go to the emergency room.

How can I prevent UTIs?

Some people get UTIs a lot and some people never get them. It depends on your body! There are things you can do if you get a lot of UTIs:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Pee often, especially before and after sexually activity
  • Get lots of rest
  • Use a barrier like a condom, dental dam, or glove
  • Use a new barrier when switching between anal and front hole or vaginal sex
  • Wash your hands, sex toys or anything else that might come into contact with your urethra
  • Use lube without glycerin, sorbitol or parabens
  • Drink cranberry juice regularly, not as a treatment for UTIs
  • If you have a vagina or front hole, wipe from front to back

Are UTIs a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)?

UTIs aren’t sexually transmitted infections because they’re not passed from one person to another during sex. But, having sex or masturbating can make it more likely you’ll get an UTI.

During sex a penis, strapless, finger or sex toy can push bacteria into someone’s urethra. The bacteria can then go into their bladder, which causes a UTI. One way you can make this less likely is by peeing after sex. This can help wash away any bacteria.

Anyone can get a UTI. But, they’re more common for people with vaginas or front holes. This is because they have shorter urethras than people with a penises or strapless. That means it’s easier for bacteria to get into their bladder and give them an infection.

I think I have a UTI, what now?

If you think you have a UTI you can go to a CLSC or drop-in clinic. They can tell you for sure by testing your urine. They may also want to do an STI test to be sure about what kind of infection you have.

The most common treatment for UTIs are antibiotics. You might start to feel better quickly when you start taking antibiotics. But it’s important to take all the pills the doctor prescribes or else the UTI could come back.

Clinics like Head and Hands have an anonymous drop-in clinic for people 12-25 years old. You can also call 8-1-1 and talk to a nurse who can answer your questions and help you find the closest clinic.

Lots of people get UTIs but they can be uncomfortable and painful. If you think you might have one you can talk to a doctor who will be able to help you!

More info

UTIs – Teen Health Source

Overview of information regarding UTIs. What is a UTI? How do you know if you have one? What can you do to treat a UTI?…

UTIs and Birth Control

Article explaining the link between UTIs and birth control pills. Offers UTI preventative advice and discusses other contraceptive options. –


Related FAQs