Can a UTI Cause Odor?

Yes, a urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause odor. UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract, leading to an infection typically in the bladder or urethra. These infections can cause urine to have a strong or foul smell often described as “fishy” or “ammonia-like”.

This is due to several factors such as:

  • Bacteria metabolize compounds in urine, leading to the production of waste products with a strong or unusual smell.
  • UTIs can cause dehydration, resulting in more concentrated urine, which might amplify the odor.
  • UTIs can cause some blood to mix in with the urine which can also contribute to a change in odor.
  • The bacterial activities can also alter the pH balance of the urine, further influencing its smell.

Continue reading to find out more about UTIs and their potential to cause odor, as well as how to treat these infections.

Table of Contents

What Is a UTI?

A UTI or urinary tract infection can happen in any part of your urinary system. It’s a result of bacteria getting into the urinary tract from the outside of your body and will cause inflammation and possible odors as a result. A UTI in the urethra is also known as Urethritis, an infection in the bladder is known as Cystitis, and an infection in the kidneys is called Pyelonephritis. Each of these may show different symptoms depending on the case itself.

Does a UTI Cause Odor?

One of the main giveaways that you might be experiencing a UTI aside from pain while urinating is that you may notice an odor coming from your genitals, or when urinating. Again, it can be different based on the condition, however, an odor is a possible symptom.

Does a UTI Cause Fishy-Smelling Urine?

If you’ve noticed that your urine smells fishy, then it’s a sign that you have a urinary tract infection. A bacterial infection in your urinary tract can lead to your urine being contaminated, which is what causes the smell of your urine to change to a possibly fishy smell. If you’ve noticed that there is a burning sensation while urinating, or that you have cloudy urine, these are all symptoms that you are experiencing a UTI.

Can a UTI Cause Smelly Discharge?

When experiencing a UTI, you may be experiencing an increased amount of discharge that’s accompanied by an unpleasant odor. While this may not always point to being a UTI, it can often be accompanied by other changes in discharge, such as a change in color or texture in the discharge, vaginal bleeding, or vaginal itchiness.

So while the UTI itself is not causing the discharge, it’s possible that you may notice a slight or significant change in the discharge you experience.

Can a UTI Cause Vaginal Odor?

Yes, a UTI can cause vaginal odor, whether it’s caused by a change in smell from your urine or your discharge. Some while experiencing a UTI will experience an increased need to urinate, as well as an increased amount of discharge, which can both lead to a vaginal odor.

What Else Could Be the Cause of Vaginal Odor?

A vaginal odor isn’t a sure sign that you’re experiencing a UTI, and it can in fact be caused by a number of factors that you should know about. It’s also worth noting that your vaginal odor changing on a daily basis is perfectly natural, and isn’t always a sign that you should be alarmed. There are symptoms that should cause concern, but the odor isn’t always one of them.

  • Bacterial vaginosis is an inflammatory infection that can cause a fishy odor, vaginal itching, and a burning sensation. All of these may be accompanied by a change in your vaginal discharge. As you can see, the symptoms are quite similar to a UTI and may require a professional diagnosis.
  • A lack of hygiene may also lead to a fishy or unpleasant vaginal odor. It’s also worth noting that poor hygiene can lead to infections like UTIs or bacterial vaginosis.
  • Trichomoniasis. Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection that can be a result of unsafe sex practices. A symptom of this can be unpleasant odors from vaginal discharge, which can also sometimes be accompanied by itching and painful urination.

As you can see, foul odors aren’t always going to be a sure sign of a UTI, and while it should be a concern, there’s no easy way to determine the cause. Getting in touch with a professional about treatment and diagnosis is the best way to handle the situation going forward.

How to Get Rid of UTI Smell?

As unpleasant as the UTI smell may be, you should know there are methods to lessen or get rid of the smell. Making sure to stay hydrated while you have a UTI is highly important, and while you may experience an elevated need to urinate, as well as pain while urinating – being hydrated can help to relieve all of your symptoms.

It’s not just drinking plenty of water, it’s also believed that drinking cranberry juice can help individuals experiencing bladder infections specifically.

How to Treat a UTI?

UTIs can effectively be treated only with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. The type of antibiotic and duration of treatment will depend on the severity and type of infection. The most common antibiotics used to treat UTIs are Nitrofurantoin and Bactrim.

Alongside antibiotics, there are supportive measures you can take to relieve UTI symptoms and help along the recovery process such as:

It’s important to remember that home remedies and over-the-counter treatments can help with symptoms, but they do not replace the need for antibiotics to treat the underlying bacterial infection.

When to See a Doctor?

As a UTI isn’t life-threatening or typically dangerous, it can be hard to know when you should visit a healthcare professional about it. Typically, you don’t need to see your doctor if your symptoms are minor, and as long as you stay hydrated – your symptoms should clear up over a short period of time. However, there are situations where you should see a doctor immediately. Get in touch with a professional if:

  • Your symptoms are major or seem to be getting worse over time.
  • Your child is experiencing the symptoms of a UTI.
  • The symptoms show no signs of improvement.
  • You’re experiencing UTIs frequently.

Upon seeing your doctor, you can make sure you get an informed diagnosis, as well as a suggested treatment to aid your symptoms. Likely you’ll be given antibiotics, which should help to clear up the infection over the course of a few days.

How Can DrHouse Help You?

DrHouse offers a fast and reliable telehealth service that is available 24/7. Our team of board-certified online doctors can help you diagnose and treat any UTI quickly and accurately.

We provide personalized doctor consultations over video chat, so you don’t have to worry about waiting in line or sitting in a doctor’s office. In fact, you can see a clinician in just 15 minutes or less and from the comfort of your own home.

Our clinicians can diagnose your conditions, provide a treatment plan and write online prescriptions if needed, and answer any questions you may have.

Make an appointment with DrHouse today to get a fast and accurate diagnosis from the comfort of your own home. We’ll be here for you every step of the way.

Key Takeaways

A UTI is an inflammatory infection that takes place in the urinary tract infection, can lead to a number of symptoms. Individuals may experience pain while urinating, as well as fishy smells from discharge or urine.

The symptoms of a UTI aren’t exclusive and may be mistaken for a number of other infections such as bacterial vaginosis.

Symptoms can be made more bearable by staying hydrated and taking antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.

Sources:

  • Urinary Tract Infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/uti.html 
  • Stephen L. Swartz, Stephen J. Kraus, Kenneth L. Herrmann, Michael D. Stargel, W. Jerry Brown, Stephen D. Allen, Diagnosis and Etiology of Nongonococcal Urethritis, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 138, Issue 4, October 1978, Pages 445–454, https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/138.4.445
  • BRAND, J. M. PhD; GALASK, R. P. MD. Trimethylamine: The Substance Mainly Responsible for the Fishy Odor Often Associated With Bacterial Vaginosis. Obstetrics & Gynecology 68(5):p 682-685, November 1986.
  • Jane R. Schwebke, Donald Burgess. Trichomoniasis. 2004, Clinical Microbiology Reviews. Pages 794-803, Volume 17, No 4. Doi:https://www.doi.org/10.1128/CMR.17.4.794-803.2004    
  • Spence D, Melville C. Vaginal discharge BMJ 2007; 335 :1147 doi:https://www.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39378.633287.80 
  • R. Raz, B. Chazan, M. Dan, Cranberry Juice and Urinary Tract Infection, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 38, Issue 10, 15 May 2004, Pages 1413–1419, https://doi.org/10.1086/386328
  • Susan J Midthun, Ruth Paur, Glenda Lindseth. Urinary Tract Infections: Does the Smell Really Tell? 2004 Journal of Gerontological Nursing, Pages 4-9, Volume 30, No 6. Doi:https://www.doi.org/10.3928/0098-9134-20040601-04 

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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