It’s possible, albeit highly unlikely, for a UTI to clear up without antibiotics or other interventions. UTIs that do not go away on their own can become more severe and lead to long-term complications if left untreated.
UTI symptoms may fade for a few days — creating the illusion the infection has cleared — but then return full force, she says.
“When a UTI does clear up on its own, typically that happens within one week,” explains Victoria Scott, MD, urologist and medical adviser at Flo Health.
Although it may be tempting to wait and see, most healthcare professionals advise against it. The longer the infection is left untreated, the more likely it is to move up the urinary tract.
Upper UTIs are generally more complex and more likely to cause severe complications.
Most UTIs are lower UTIs that affect the urethra and bladder. Lower UTIs are usually associated with the following symptoms:
- more frequent urination
- pain, burning, or other discomfort during urination
- sudden urge to urinate (even if you just went)
- feeling unable to empty the bladder fully
- urine that’s cloudy or tinged with blood
- urine that smells foul or more pungent than usual
- abdominal or pelvic pain
Taking note of any symptoms you’re experiencing can be helpful when it comes to an initial UTI diagnosis, says David Shusterman, MD, urologist and medical director at NY Urology.
Any changes in these symptoms can help you discern whether your treatment plan is working. He says that decreased pain, less frequent urination, and the return of your usual urine color may be a sign of improvement.
However, a stand-alone review of symptoms isn’t enough to determine the state of infection. The only way to know whether you have a UTI is to take a diagnostic test like a urinalysis or urine culture.
“You can get evaluated for a UTI at your physician’s office or by going to an urgent care or quick care facility,” says Suzy Lipinski, MD, OB-GYN at Obstetrix of Colorado, part of Pediatrix Medical Group.
If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, seeking medical care as soon as possible is essential, says Lipinski. These could be a sign of an upper UTI, which can affect your kidneys if left untreated.
“Water is essential in helping you pee more, which helps to flush out the bacteria and helps to prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls,” says Fosnight.
“Consuming cranberry in a concentrated form can be helpful, as it has been shown to decrease bacteria adherence to the bladder wall,” she says. D-mannose is another supplement that may have the same effect, she says.
Beyond these UTI-specific remedies, supplementing with vitamin C, garlic, and oregano oil may also be beneficial because they’re all immune-boosting or antibacterial, Fosnight says.
UTIs can occasionally clear up their own. However, the likelihood of this is low, and the risk of complications from an untreated infection is high.
The best way to speed up recovery is to consult a healthcare professional. “They can provide a proper diagnosis, determine the severity of the infection, and prescribe the appropriate treatment, including antibiotics if necessary,” says Shusterman.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.