Urinary Tract Infection

Urethral-TractUrethral Tract

The urethral tract is the tube that takes urine from the bladder to outside the body, via the genitals. It is the lower part of the urinary tract.

The urinary tract begins where urine is made in the two kidneys, which filter waste products, water, and salts from the blood to form urine. The urine drains down tubes called ureters into the bladder where it’s stored until it is passed out through the urethra.

The male urethra is about 8 inches (20 cm) long and passes from the bladder through the penis. It carries semen as well as urine and is used for both urination and ejaculation.

The female urethra is about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) to 2 inches (5.1 cm) long and passes from the bladder to where it exits between the clitoris and the vagina. It’s used only for urination.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Urine is normally sterile, and acts as an antiseptic, washing potentially harmful bacteria out of the body during urination. A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria gets into the urine. [Read more at Urinary Tract Infection]

We all have bacteria that normally live harmlessly in the bowel, but if they are left on the skin around the back passage they can sometimes travel into the urethral tract, especially in women because those two openings are so close together. Most urine infections are due to these bacteria, which thrive in urine and multiply quickly.

They mostly lodge in the bladder, when the infection is called cystitis. [Read more at cystitis], but they may travel higher up through the ureters to affect one or both kidneys as well.

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