Womens Health

More Answers to Common Questions about Urinary Tract Problems

Frederick R. Jelovsek MD

Unusual urine odor

Two days ago when i would urinate it has a very different smell. I have no other symptoms of a bladder infection. What could be causing this?

Urine odor is usually not because of urinary tract infection. It is often due to:
1) Concentration (ammonia smell)
2) From foods we've eaten
3) From the sweat glands of the perineum
4) From vaginal bacteria

See also our article on perineal body odor You may want to avoid pungent vegetables like onions, garlic, asparagus and fatty meats for several days and see if the urine odor changes.

Urine culture

I feel the urge to urinate frequently but I have no other symptoms such as pain, pressure or burning. The nurse practitioner is questioning whether I really have IC or Over-Active bladder and wants to do a broth culture.

Could you tell me what is a broth culture, when or why is it done and how expensive is it?

Broth cultures are sometimes used to grow out bacteria that are difficult to grow.  "Broth" just refers to a nutrient mixture made up to grow a particular organism or group of organisms.

The expense of the culture should not be more than any other type of culture. It depends on your local lab. This isn't a new technique. I'm not really aware of how often the microbiology lab uses a broth culture; we just send culture swabs and expect the lab to use the best culture for the clinical situation.

Without pain it is unlikely that you have interstitial cystitis. The nurse practitioner may be using the broth culture to check for unusual urethral organisms such as ureaplasma or mycoplasma.

Enterococcus urinary tract infection

I sent my urine specimen in to a special lab that lets the specimen grow out over 5 days. The report states that I have ENTEROCOCCUS. What is that exactly? How does a person get this? How is it treated? Is there any way to tell how long it has been in my body?

Enterococcus is a streptococcus bacteria called Group D streptococcus that is normally found only in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

It is a somewhat frequent cause of urinary tract infections and probably gets from the rectal area into the urethra from sexual intercourse or wiping the rectum in the wrong direction toward the vagina.

Thus it is a normal bacteria for your body, it just got in the wrong place. The most common cause of urinary tract infections is E. Coli which is another bacteria normally found in the GI tract.

After you are treated with antibiotics for the enterococcus, you might try to prevent repeat infections by drinking cranberry juice. This has been shown to be bactericidal against E. Coli but I do not think it has been tested against enterococcus. It would not hurt though.

Table of Contents
1. Urinary tract problems
2. Burning sensation
3. Vaginal strep
4. Rare: strep viridans
5. E. Coli
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