UTI prevention

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect your urinary tract, including your bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis) or kidneys (kidney infection). UTIs may be treated with antibiotics, but they're not always needed.

Now that summertime is upon us and temperatures are rising, alongside your trusty sunscreen, sunglasses and hats one more crucial item to your summer routine: a strategy to prevent UTIs.

Surprising as it may seem, UTIs are more prevalent during the summer months than at other times of the year, thanks to warm temperatures that allow bacteria to grow.

A few proactive measures can safeguard your urinary tract and significantly reduce the risk of a summertime UTI.

To lower your risk of developing a UTI this summer and throughout the rest of the year:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eating fruit and vegetables with high water content such as cucumber, watermelon and strawberries.
  • Shower regularly to make sure the genital area is kept clean and dry.
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the toilet. 
  • Don’t “hold it in” – Go to the bathroom when you need to go and ensure you empty your bladder completely.

Anyone can get UTIs, but they’re particularly common in women.

It is estimated that around half of all women in the UK will suffer at least one urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives. Yet despite being the leading source of bacterial bloodstream infections, UTIs remain a chronically neglected area of infectious diseases.

The signs and symptoms you may experience if you have a UTI:

  • pain or a burning sensation when you pee
  • needing to pee more often than usual
  • needing to pee more often than usual during the night
  • needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual
  • pee that looks cloudy
  • blood in your pee
  • lower tummy pain or pain in your back, just under the ribs
  • a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
  • a very low temperature below 36°C


Your pee may also be dark or smell. If this is your only symptom, it might be because you've not been drinking enough water.


Symptoms in children

Children with UTIs may also:

  • have a high temperature – your child is feeling hotter than usual if you touch their neck, back or tummy
  • appear generally unwell – babies and young children may be irritable and not feed or eat properly
  • wet the bed or wet themselves
  • be sick

UTIs are usually caused by bacteria from poo entering the urinary tract.

The bacteria enter through the tube that carries pee out of the body (urethra).

Women have a shorter urethra than men. This means bacteria are more likely to reach the bladder or kidneys and cause an infection.

Things that increase the risk of bacteria getting into the bladder include:

  • having sex
  • pregnancy
  • conditions that block the urinary tract – such as kidney stones
  • conditions that make it difficult to fully empty the bladder – such as an  enlarged prostate in men and constipation in children
  • urinary catheters (a tube in your bladder used to drain urine)
  • having a weakened immune system – for example, people with diabetes or people having chemotherapy
  • not drinking enough fluids
  • not keeping the genital area clean and dry

There are some things you can try to help prevent a UTI happening or prevent it returning.


  • wipe from front to back when you go to the toilet
  • keep the genital area clean and dry
  • drink plenty of fluids, particularly water to stop you becoming dehydrated. Some people are on restricted fluids for medical conditions such as heart failure, in such case other sources of hydration, such as frozen fruit, may be advised.
  • wash the skin around the genitals with water before and after sex
  • pee as soon as possible after sex
  • check and change incontinence pads and nappies often. Promptly change nappies or incontinence pads if they're soiled


  • do not use scented soap, gels and sprays around the genital area
  • do not hold your pee in, go to the toilet as soon as possible
  • do not rush when going for a pee – try to fully empty your bladder
  • do not wear tight synthetic underwear, such as nylon
  • do not drink lots of alcoholic drinks, as they may irritate your bladder
  • do not have lots of sugary food or drinks, as they may encourage bacteria to grow
  • do not use condoms or a diaphragm or cap with spermicidal lube on them – try non-spermicidal lube or a different type of contraception

Use the pee colour chart

Generally, the lighter your pee is, the more likely you are to be hydrated. If you notice your pee starts to look darker, have a drink. The colours on the chart below are a guide to how hydrated you are. They should not replace medical advice from a health professional.

Symptoms of dehydration

Early symptoms

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Dark yellow and strong-smelling pee
  • Peeing less often than you would normally

Late symptoms

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • A dry mouth, lip and tongue
  • Feeling tired
  • Sunken eyes

Remember older people may be less sensitive to thirst, so check loved ones for signs of dehydration.

pee colour chart.png

What to do if you suspect you have a UTI

If you think you might have a UTI, ensure you are drinking enough fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. 

Contact your GP if:

  • you have symptoms of a UTI for the first time
  • your child has symptoms of a UTI
  • you're a man with symptoms of a UTI
  • you're pregnant and have symptoms of a UTI
  • you're caring for an older, frail person who may have symptoms of a UTI
  • you have symptoms of a UTI after surgery
  • your symptoms get worse or do not improve within 2 days
  • your symptoms come back after treatment.

Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:

You think you, your child or someone you care for may have a UTI and:

  • have a very high temperature, or feel hot and shivery
  • have a very low temperature below 36°C
  • are confused or drowsy
  • have pain in the lower tummy or in the back, just under the ribs
  • can see blood in your pee

These symptoms could mean you have a kidney infection, which can be serious if it's not treated as it could cause sepsis.

If you cannot speak to or see a GP, or your symptoms are getting worse, call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Women aged 16 to 64 years of age with suspected UTI

If you are a non-pregnant woman aged 16 years to 64 years in the absence of current or recent fever (within past 48 hours) and think you have a UTI then you may be eligible to get support, self-care advice, safety-netting advice and treatment from your local community pharmacy.

More information about UTIs

More information about UTIs can be found from the following links:

What is a UTI?

Keeping hydrated

How to avoid a UTI

Accessibility tools

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