Bladder infections are much more common in women than men, due to the location of the urethra (you- REE-thruh), the tube which carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. A woman's urethra is near the vagina and anus, making it more easily contaminated by bacteria from these sources. Intercourse can introduce bacteria into the urethra, so a bladder infection may occur when a woman first becomes sexually active. Symptoms include pain during urination, frequent need or urge to urinate, and in rare cases, blood in the urine. To diagnose a bladder infection, the doctor usually does a urinalysis (your-ih-NAL-ih- sis), where a urine sample is examined under the microscope for bacteria. The doctor may also look for white blood cells, which can indicate infection, even when the bacteria count is low. Smokers are at greater risk for bladder infection; so are pregnant women, and those who use diaphragms. Also, any condition which interferes with the complete emptying of the bladder can encourage infection. Most bladder infections are treated with antibiotics, over several days or weeks. However, if the underlying problem is physical, surgery may be needed. To reduce the likelihood of infection, drink plenty of water; urinate as soon as you feel the need; keep the genital area clean; and avoid irritants like feminine sprays and bubble bath. For more information on bladder infections, consult a health care professional.