Painful urination in pregnancy

If you have a painful or burning sensation when you wee (urinate), you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect your urinary tract, including your bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis) or kidneys (kidney infection). 

Painful urination can also be due to another type of infection, such as thrush, or the result of dehydration. Speak to your GP or midwife if it hurts when you wee or you have vaginal discharge

 Are UTIs common in pregnancy? 

Pregnancy can increase the risk of bacteria of getting into the bladder. 

Sometimes infections don’t cause any symptoms but may still be harmful to the baby, which is why it’s important to go to all your routine antenatal appointments. Your midwife will do urine tests at each appointment, which can help pick up infections.  

Do I have a urinary tract infection (UTI)? 

Symptoms of a UTI include: 

  • pain or a burning sensation when peeing (dysuria) 
  • needing to pee more often than usual during the night (nocturia) 
  • pee that looks cloudy, dark or has a strong smell 
  • needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual 
  • needing to pee more often than usual.

Speak to your GP or midwife if you have some or any of these symptoms.  

Treatment for a UTI infection 

If you get a UTI in pregnancy it is important to get treatment as soon as you can. Even common UTIs, such as cystitis, should be treated. 

It should be treated as soon as possible with antibiotics that are safe to use in pregnancy.  

Treatment can prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys. UTI infections can bring on premature labour if they are left untreated.

Your GP or midwife will ask for a sample of your wee so that it can be tested to make sure that you are put on the correct antibiotic. Find out more about drugs and medications in pregnancy.  

Symptoms of a kidney infection 

If you think you have a urinary tract infection and: 

  • a high temperature (above 37.5C), or feeling hot and shivery 
  • a very low temperature (below 36C) 
  • blood in your pee 
  • lower tummy pain or pain in your back, just under the ribs.

These symptoms could mean the infection has spread to the kidneys, which can be serious. Contact your GP urgently or get help from NHS 111.  

How to prevent a urinary tract infection

You can help prevent a UTI by doing the following: 

  • wiping from front to back when you go to the toilet 
  • keeping the genital area clean and dry 
  • drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water – so that you regularly pee during the day and do not feel thirsty 
  • washing the skin around the vagina with pain water before and after sex 
  • weeing as soon as possible after sex 
  • not using scented soap or bubble bath 
  • not having lots of sugary food or drinks, as they may encourage bacteria to grow.

NHS Urinary Tract Infections. (Page last reviewed: 22 March 2022 Next review due: 22 March 2025)

Baer RJ, et al. Risk of Early Birth among Women with a Urinary Tract Infection: A Retrospective Cohort Study. AJP Rep. 2021 Jan;11(1):e5-e14. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1721668. Epub 2021 Jan 13. PMID: 33489437; PMCID: PMC7813589.

Review dates
Reviewed: 21 February 2023
Next review: 21 February 2026