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Urinary tract or other infection screening

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of any part of the urinary system, the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra.

  • An infection in the urethra is called urethritis.
  • A bladder infection is called cystitis.
  • A kidney infection is called pyelonephritis.

Who is at risk

  • People who have nerve damage around the bladder, or have spinal cord injuries are more likely to get a UTI.
  • People who have abnormalities in the urinary tract that block the flow of urine from the kidneys to the bladder (like a kidney stone).
  • People with diabetes or other problems with the body’s defense (immune) system.
  • Women who use certain types of birth control like a diaphragm or spermicide.
  • People who must use catheters to empty their bladder.
  • Sexual activity can move bacteria from the bowel or vagina to the urethral opening. Following sexual intercourse, most women have a significant number of bacteria in their urine.


  • Pain or stinging when passing urine.
  • A strong urge to pass urine or feeling a need to pass urine even after you have just done so (urgency).
  • Feeling a need to pass urine much more often than usual, even if not much urine comes out each time (frequency).
  • Pressure in the lower belly.
  • Urine that smells bad or strong.
  • Urine that looks milky, cloudy, or reddish in color. If you see blood in your urine, contact a healthcare provider right away.
  • Feeling tired or shaky.
  • Pain in the lower back, which may indicate a kidney infection.

What you can do

  • Drink lots of fluid—water is best—and try to drink six to eight glasses a day.Urinate frequently. Go to the bathroom when you first feel the urge.
  • Urinate soon after sex.
  • After using the toilet, always use proper hygiene practices and wipe from front to back.
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes.
  • During intercourse, use lubricated condoms without spermicides, or use a lubricant without spermicides.

Preventive service at no cost

Pregnant Women at 12 to 16 Weeks' Gestation

The USPSTF recommends screening for asymptomatic bacteriuria with urine culture for pregnant women at 12 to 16 weeks' gestation or at their first prenatal visit, if later. 

Why screening is important

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in pregnant women. When treated promptly and properly, lower UTIs (infections of the bladder and urethra) rarely lead to complications. But left untreated, a UTI can have serious consequences.

What the screening is

Your doctor will give you a cup to catch your urine. It is a test to check for germs or bacteria. At the lab, drops are put in a petri dish to see if any bacteria in the sample multiply and grow.


UTIs are treated with antibiotics, medication that kills bacteria.

Additional tips

Cranberry extracts do not treat UTIs but may help reduce the risk of recurrent UTI.