How contagious is a urinary tract infection?

Urinary tract infections are one of the more common infections, especially among women. They can be caused by bacteria and are therefore principally contagious.
How likely it is, however, to become infected, should be clarified in more detail here.

Can I get a urinary tract infection?

This infection, like other infections, can of course cause contagion. However, this is not transmitted directly from urinary tract to urinary tract. In most cases, the disease is caused by coli bacteria that naturally reside in our intestines. It happens that we can become infected with our own intestinal germs as well as with the intestinal germs of others.

In most cases, this happens due to poor hygiene when using the toilet, in public toilets but also due to the fact that insufficient hand washing causes germs to be transferred through the hand to the opening of the urethra. The germs can often be found outside the toilet. You can find them on doorknobs, handles and switches in buses or trains, on public displays such as ATMs or in general in places that are often touched by many different people.
The direct germ path without the intermediate point of the hand is very rare. Therefore, one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from a urinary tract infection is to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.

You can find more information on the subject on our website What are the typical causes of a urinary tract infection?

As a man, can I get a urinary tract infection in a woman?

In general, it is possible as a man to contract infections in a woman, however, due to the greater length of the urethra compared to women, infections of the bladder and urethra are very rare. Infection, as just described, is much more common due to poor hand hygiene, especially during and after using the toilet.
Therefore, one can assume the possibility of contracting a woman's urinary tract infection during vaginal sex, for example. However, the already rare disease of a urinary tract infection in men is even more often due to the general bacterial contamination of the environment.

As a woman, can I get a urinary tract infection in a man?

In this constellation, infection is more likely, as women with a rather short urethra of only 3 to 5 cm can be infected more easily. It is possible that during sexual intercourse, for example, bacteria are transferred from the man's urethral outlet into the vagina and then continue through the woman's very short urethra into the bladder.
However, urinary tract infections are very rare in men and therefore the likelihood of becoming infected as a woman is very low.

Much more likely than the direct spread of germs from man to woman, poor toilet and hand hygiene are the cause of urinary tract infections in women too. In women, there is also the possibility of infection from their own germs, which can get to the urethra as a smear infection from the anus during sex but also when washing.

You can find more information about urinary tract infections here.

Can I get a urinary tract infection from a contaminated toilet?

The answer to this question is clearly yes. As a woman in particular, the probability of being infected by germs from others in public toilets is very high.
There is a low risk of urine splashes from another patient and a much higher risk of intestinal germs such as E. coli. These germs occur naturally in the intestine and can trigger a urinary tract infection by spreading them to the urethral opening.
This spread can take place on the one hand via the direct route from the contaminated toilet, on the other hand via contaminated surfaces such as door handles, fittings and displays via the hand to the urethra.
As a man, the possibility exists as well, but the probability is much lower for various reasons. As mentioned before, the main reason is the significantly longer urethra, which makes urinary tract infections much less likely.

Read more about bacteria in urine.

How contagious is it to my baby if I have a urinary tract infection as a mother?

Pregnant women with a urinary tract infection should always be treated, even if there are few or no symptoms.
This tries to avoid an infection on the unborn child.

  • You can find more on the subject in our article: Cystitis During Pregnancy.

Mothers who have a urinary tract infection and have already given birth do not have to expect their child to be infected by them or others.
The urinary tract infection is generally caused by entrained intestinal bacteria and only very rarely directly via the contaminated urine of an infected person.

  • You can find more on the topic in our article: Urinary tract infection in children - how dangerous is it?

How long is a urinary tract infection contagious?

A urinary tract infection is contagious for about as long as symptoms persist. However, since the urinary tract infection is one of the very little or no infectious diseases, there is no need to fear transmission of the infection to friends or family.

How long is the incubation period?

It is not known exactly how long the incubation period is between the bacterial infection and the onset of the disease.
However, it is assumed that there will be a few hours before the first symptoms can appear and it is largely dependent on the patient's gender and defenses

What can I do for prevention?

To prevent urinary tract infections, make sure that you drink a lot throughout the day. Two to three liters of water are desirable because any germs that may rise are continuously diluted and rinsed out. This type of prevention is so crucial that it is even recommended as a therapy for mild uncomplicated urinary tract infections.
Furthermore, urination by the woman immediately after sexual intercourse can flush out any germs that may have been carried over into the urethra.

If, despite this, recurring infections occur, the doctor can vaccinate against the most common pathogens, namely various E. coli strains, or administer long-term preventive antibiotics.