Urinary tract infections a common health problem for women

Local expert discusses prevention, symptoms and treatment 

WESTFIELD — Most women have either had a urinary tract infection (UTI) or know someone who has. In fact, a woman’s lifetime risk of developing a UTI is as high as one in two according to some estimates, and repeat infections are quite common. Amy Metzger, CNM, a certified nurse-midwife at Women’s Health Associates in Westfield and Springfield, offers practical advice to help women reduce their risks, know the symptoms and treat these pesky, and usually painful, infections.

“Women are predisposed to UTIs due in large part to anatomy,” said Metzger. “The female urethra is close to the anus, which increases the risk of a bacterial invasion. In addition, women have shorter urethras, so bacteria don’t have to travel far to reach the bladder. Intercourse can also result in the transfer of bacteria.”

Metzger noted that women can reduce their risks for a UTI by:

  • Always wiping from front to back
  • Emptying their bladders regularly and completely
  • Cleansing the genital area before intercourse, and urinating after
  • Showering instead of bathing
  • Keeping the genital area dry, including wearing breathable cotton underwear and not lingering in wet swimsuits
  • Drinking plenty of water

Some women are more genetically predisposed to urinary tract infections, and certain conditions—like diabetes, multiple sclerosis and even pregnancy—increase susceptibility.

For women who have repeat infections, additional preventative steps include avoiding products that can cause irritation and increase the likelihood of infections, such as feminine hygiene sprays and scented feminine care products; unlubricated condoms or spermicidal jelly; tight-fitting pants or nylon underwear and tights that can trap moisture; or a diaphragm, which can increase bacterial growth.

Women who have a urinary tract infection are likely to experience:

  • Pain and burning while urinating
  • An increased urge to urinate, but with little output
  • Fever, chills and fatigue
  • Bad-smelling or cloudy, dark or bloody urine
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvis, abdomen or lower back


Metzger said that women who suspect they have a UTI should seek medical care promptly as infections can worsen and spread to the kidneys.

“We’ll test your urine and if an infection is detected, prescribe antibiotics,” she said. “If UTIs are a chronic problem for you, we’ll work with you to try to determine why and develop a more robust prevention strategy and treatment plan.”


The providers at Women’s Health Associates take the time to get to know their patients and enjoy providing a personal level of care. For more information,



About Women’s Health Associates

Women’s Health Associates is a compassionate and caring practice whose providers include Dr. Robert S. Wool, Dr. Jacqueline S. Kates and three certified nurse-midwives, Debra (Burt) Ames, Anne Vaillant, and Amy Metzger. The practitioners at Women’s Health Associates are dedicated to practicing the “Art of Medicine” in the modern world. They know that the latest technology cannot replace the understanding and intuition of a conscientious, empathetic practitioner. WHA is small enough to remember patients by name and give personal attention, but large enough to offer the most advanced medical technology backed by years of experience. WHA’s services include comprehensive gynecological and obstetrical care. The practice offers state-of-the-art bone density testing, obstetric and gynecologic ultrasound, laser therapy for line and age spot removal, hair removal and treatment for acne. More information about the Women’s Health Associates offices in Springfield and Westfield can be found at


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