Can a UTI Cause Cramps?

A UTI, or urinary tract infection, is incredibly common and more so in women. As many as 50% of women report having had at least one UTI. UTIs cause numerous symptoms, including abdominal pain, painful urination, and pelvic discomfort but can a UTI cause cramps? 

In this article, we will explore the link between UTIs and cramps. We will also look at some tips for relief and prevention.

Table of Contents

Do UTIs Cause Cramps?

Cramp-like pain is a common urinary tract infection symptom. It is also possible to experience it as a pressing or painful sensation. Cramps caused by a UTI most frequently manifest in the pelvic region or the lower back.

The lining of your urinary tract is susceptible to infection from the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. Inflammation and irritation are two potential outcomes of this chain of events. Not only that, but urine is an excellent medium for these bacteria’ continued growth, making it possible for them to spread.

Other Common UTI Symptoms

A UTI causes the lining of the urinary tract to become red and irritated (also known as inflammation), which can result in a variety of symptoms, including the following:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • The sensation of pressure in the lower pelvis
  • The need to urinate frequently (referred to as frequency), the need to urinate immediately (referred to as urgency), and incontinence (urine leakage).
  • Burning sensation when passing urine
  • Blood in the urine.
  • The urge to urinate at night
  • Cloudy urine
  • Strong or foul-smelling urine

The following is a list of other symptoms of a UTI:

  • Discomfort during sexual activity
  • Penis pain
  • Bloating
  • Pain felt in the lower back or the sides of the body (the flanks)
  • Fatigue
  • Chills and high-temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Alterations in mental state or confusion, especially in older patients

How Can You Relieve UTI Cramps?

Home remedies and over-the-counter medications will not help if you already have a urinary tract infection. Oral antibiotics are required to treat your UTI. Once you begin taking antibiotics, the symptoms will typically disappear within two to three days.

You should still take all the antibiotics your doctor prescribes, even though the symptoms should go away fairly quickly. If you fail to do this, the infection may return more potently the next time it strikes.

However, while you are suffering from an infection and experiencing UTI cramps, you may wonder how to relieve them.

Heating pad

If you are experiencing UTI cramps, applying a heating pad or a hot water bottle to the area may provide some relief. It is important to remember to place a towel or other barrier between your skin and the heating pad or hot water bottle so that you do not accidentally burn your skin. It may be helpful to try warming the lower abdomen with a heating pad for 20 minutes at a time.

Drink water

Drinking water helps dilute your urine, reducing the intensity of the discomfort associated with urination. Staying well hydrated helps you urinate more frequently, which is a crucial step to flush bacteria that may be present in your bladder.

OTC medication

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol and ibuprofen may help alleviate some of the pain and discomfort caused by an infection of the urinary system. Phenazopyridine is yet another pain reliever that has the potential to assist in alleviating uncomfortable symptoms. 

What Can You Do to Prevent a UTI?

Because the urethra in women is typically shorter than in men, it is much simpler for bacteria to make their way to the bladder and cause an infection. As a result, women are at a higher risk of UTIs. UTIs are also more common in postmenopausal women because low estrogen levels change vaginal and urethral tissue, which increases the risk of infection.

It is always preferable to avoid contracting a UTI rather than simply treating one once it has occurred.

Some UTI prevention methods include:

Consume a Lot of Fluids, Especially Water.

This helps to maintain healthy bladder tissue and hydration levels. Additionally, it decreases the concentration of bacteria in the bladder while, at the same time, making your urine more dilute. To help keep infections at bay, make it a daily goal to consume at least 50 fluid ounces, equivalent to about 1.5 liters. 

Empty Your Bladder Often.

Frequent urination helps you to ensure that urine does not remain stagnant in your bladder for extended periods. This eliminates the favorable living conditions bacteria require to thrive, as bacteria thrive best in warm and moist environments.

Urinate Shortly After Sexual Activity.

Intimate contact can bring bacteria dangerously close to or even into the urethra, the narrow tube connecting the bladder to the outside of the body. Urinating after sexual activity flushes away some of the bacteria in your system before it has a chance to cause an infection.

Consume Cranberry Extract in Supplement Form.

Even though taking cranberry supplements has not been proven to be effective in preventing urinary tract infections in any studies, there is a plausible biological mechanism that suggests doing so could be beneficial. Instead of drinking cranberry juice, you could try a more potent form of the fruit available without a prescription called a cranberry extract supplement. It most likely offers additional benefits while reducing the excess sugar typically found in juice.

Wipe From the Front to the Back.

When this is done after urinating, and after having a bowel movement, bacteria in the anal region are less likely to spread to the vagina and the urethra. 

When to See a Doctor?

You should always consult your doctor if you think you might have a UTI. It is important to get the proper diagnosis and treatment, as some UTIs can lead to serious kidney infections if left untreated. Early diagnosis and treatment of UTIs can also help prevent the spread of bacteria to the kidneys.

If you experience any of the following, it is important to see a doctor as these could be signs of a more serious problem:

  • High fever
  • Severe abdominal pain or pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Inability to urinate, or burning sensation during urination
  • Blood in your urine

Get Help From DrHouse!

If you think you might have a UTI, the best thing to do is to consult with a doctor. The online doctors at DrHouse can help you get a diagnosis and treatment plan that is right for you. We can also provide you with information on how to prevent UTIs in the future and we can also prescribe antibiotics if necessary. DrHouse offers convenient and affordable care that can be accessed from the comfort of your own home.

FAQs

Key Takeaways

A common symptom of a urinary tract infection is cramping. You will most likely feel them in your pelvic region or lower back most of the time.

A UTI can be treated with antibiotics. Applying heat to your abdomen, taking over-the-counter pain medication, and consuming large amounts of water can provide some relief from the cramping associated with a UTI.

Schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional if you suspect a urinary tract infection. If you do not get treatment for the infection, it may become a kidney or a bladder infection, which would worsen the situation.

Sources: 

  • Asscher AW. Renal damage due to urinary tract infection. Contributions to Nephrology. 1979 ;16:5-10. DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.1159/000402865. PMID: 380901.
  • Persad S, Watermeyer S, Griffiths A, Cherian B, Evans J. Association between urinary tract infection and postmicturition wiping habit. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2006;85(11):1395-6. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1080/00016340600936977. PMID: 17091423.
  • David T. Bailey, Carol Dalton, F. Joseph Daugherty, Michael S. Tempesta, Can a concentrated cranberry extract prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in women? A pilot study, Phytomedicine, Volume 14, Issue 4, 2007, Pages 237-241, ISSN 0944-7113, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2007.01.004.
  • McCollum BJ, Garigan T, Earwood J. PURL: Can drinking more water prevent urinary tract infections? J Fam Pract. 2020;69(3):E19-E20. PMCID: PMC7271893. PMID: 32289134.
  • Kim, JW, Kim, HJ, Park, YJ, et al. The effects of a heating pad on anxiety, pain, and distress during urodynamic study in the female patients with stress urinary incontinence. Neurourology and Urodynamics. 2018; 37: 997– 1001. https://doi.org/10.1002/nau.23326.
  • Stone, L. Which antibiotics for UTI? Nat Rev Urol 15, 396 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41585-018-0022-0.
  • Ben J. Barnett, David S Stephens, Urinary Tract Infection: An Overview, The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, Volume 314, Issue 4, 1997, Pages 245-249, ISSN 0002-9629, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9629(15)40208-3

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

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