urinary tract infection in women

Last edited 12/2018 and last reviewed 06/2021

The highest incidence of UTI is seen in amongst young women. It has a prevalence of about 1-3% in women, rising to 20% in those over 65 years (1). At least 50% of all females experience a symptomatic UTI at some time in their life (2).

50% of the women with a suspicion of UTI will have a negative culture and the symptoms are usually due to urethral syndrome (inflammation of the urethra) (3).

Other than specific symptoms such as dysuria and urgency, UTIs should be thought of as a possible cause of confusion in an elderly patient, an unexplained fever, and may often be quite occult. It may be incidental, an asymptomatic finding.

2-5% of pregnant women presents with asymptomatic bacteriuria which increases the risk of preterm birth and pyelonephritis (20-40%) if left untreated (1).