illustration of women holding lower abdomen, indicating discomfort

UTI symptoms in women:

important things to know.

If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection – and if you’re a woman, chances are you have – you know they’re not fun. UTIs can make you feel an increased urge to urinate combined with a burning sensation. These symptoms tend to reappear throughout the day and can be extremely uncomfortable.

UTIs are the second most common type of infection in the body, leading to more than eight million visits to health care providers each year. Urinary tract infections are also one of the most common conditions treated by MDLIVE doctors.

Get the facts on UTIs.

Dr. Vontrelle Roundtree, MDLIVE Interim Chief Medical Officer, shares her advice on how to be prepared when symptoms strike, what causes UTIs, and effective treatment options.

What causes a UTI?

Painful urination

According to the Mayo Clinic, urinary tract infections typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra. Your urinary system should keep these bacteria out, but sometimes, microscopic invaders, like E. coli, can enter your GI tract, which can then cause a urinary tract infection. But remember, when diagnosing a UTI, there are a lot of different variables to consider.

Common symptoms of a UTI include:


Pain or burning sensation when you urinate

abdominal pain

Pressure in the lower belly


Fever, tiredness, or shakiness

specimen container with a sample inside

Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy or reddish


An urge to urinate often

back pain

Pain in your back or side below the ribs

Knowing the symptoms of a urinary tract infection is essential, but there are many variables to consider when diagnosing a UTI.

Dr. Roundtree’s perspective

“To help ensure an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, it’s important to give your MDLIVE doctor as much information as possible. Urinary tract infections can be complicated by diabetes and other conditions that contribute to a suppressed immune system. Properly diagnosing a UTI can be challenging in pediatric patients or elderly patients with multiple complex health issues. UTI symptoms can also be confused with sexually-transmitted diseases as well. The more your doctor knows, the quicker you can receive the proper care.”

A yellow drop of liquid next to the text "clear to yellow"

Your urine is normal, depending on how hydrated you are.

The word "cloudy" appears alongside a blue-gray drop of liquid

Could be an infection, like a UTI.

The words "red/pink" appears alongside a dark red drop of liquid

Sign of blood in the urine. Could be an infection, stones, inflammation of the kidney, or more serious conditions like cancer.

The words "dark orange" appear alongside an orange drop of liquid

Sign of dehydration, medication interaction, or possible liver malfunction.

The word "green" appears alongside a green drop of liquid

Possible UTI caused by pseudomonas bacteria.

The word "brown" appears alongside a brown drop of liquid

A sign of muscle injury or breakdown from extreme exercise. Could also indicate a possible liver or kidney disorder.

The word "blue" appears alongside a blue drop of liquid

Symptom of a familial benign hypercalcemia, a rare genetic disorder.

Source: Mayo Clinic

What treatments are available for a UTI?

The most common treatment for a UTI is a course of antibiotics. After a few days of treatment, your symptoms should dissipate. If they don’t, and you’re still experiencing pain in your bladder, your doctor may also prescribe a pain medication to numb your bladder and urethra to relieve burning while urinating.

How can you get help without going to a doctor’s office?

In the past, getting treatment for a UTI meant a trip to the doctor’s office and suffering through your symptoms until your appointment. Now, if you’re a female 18+, you can talk to a doctor by phone or video — wherever you are — in as little as 15 minutes.1 And, your doctor can order a prescription, if needed, to your preferred pharmacy.2 MDLIVE is a more convenient and affordable choice to get the treatment you need to feel better faster.3

  • 115 minutes is the average call-back time for an MDLIVE medical appointment.
  • 2Prescriptions are available at the physician’s discretion when medically necessary. A renewal of an existing prescription can also be provided when your regular physician is unavailable, depending on the type of medication.
  • 3MDLIVE doctors can treat women between the ages of 18 and 65 who have uncomplicated urinary tract infection cases. However, if you are male, under 18, over 65, experience recurrent UTIs, or have complications like diabetes or other diseases that contribute to a suppressed immune system, you should see your regular doctor.

Dr. Roundtree’s perspective

“In most UTI cases – healthy women between the ages of 18 and 65 with symptoms of a UTI and no complications – it’s reasonable to initiate treatment and forgo the substantial cost and inconvenience of testing, and the subsequent delay in treatment. But if your doctor sees anything complicated in your symptoms, it makes sense to perform a urinalysis, culture, and possibly other laboratory tests.”

Follow-up care is essential.

Most UTI patients see improvement within a few days of beginning treatment, but that’s not always the case. Symptoms don’t always completely clear up within the average of three to five days, making follow-up care a must.

Dr. Roundtree’s perspective

“We find that about 90% of UTI cases are significantly improved, or even cured within 3-5 days. If you don’t see substantial improvement within this time frame, we recommend following up with your regular doctor for a urinalysis and further investigation.”

Preventive measures that work.

Urinary tract infections tend to reoccur, but there are some steps you can take to prevent them. Emptying your bladder immediately after sexual intercourse and staying hydrated are two effective ways to prevent a UTI.

Dr. Roundtree’s perspective

“If you have a UTI, drinking plenty of water helps flush out bacteria and accelerate healing. You might also try cranberry tablets, which can help you avoid getting a UTI in the first place.”

If you’re a female 18+ who’s suffering from a UTI, talk to an MDLIVE doctor in minutes to relieve UTI pain quickly and easily.4 Click here to get the care you need from the comfort and safety of home.

  • 4If you have a medical or mental health emergency, call 911. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience a life-threatening condition or acute or severe symptoms.

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Phone with doctor on screen