There is a common misconception that UTIs (urinary tract infections) can only happen to women, but more frequently than you think, UTIs also happen to men. In addition, there are many causes of UTI in men and numerous ways to treat them. Read this article to learn more about the symptoms, causes, and diagnoses of urinary tract infections in men.
What is a UTI?
A UTI is an infection that can happen in both the lower tract and upper tract of your urinary tract system.
The urinary tract system refers to the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra.
It commonly presents itself when bacteria known as the bacterium escherichia coli (E. coli) infect the body. There are 2 types of UTIs.
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This urinary tract infection is usually found in the ureters. A kidney infection happens when bacteria is carried from the bladder to the kidney.
Symptoms of a kidney infection or an upper tract UTI can include shaking and chills, nausea, high fever, pain in the upper back or side, or vomiting.
A lower tract infection includes bacteria that has spread to the bladder, prostate, or urethra.
Symptoms of a lower tract UTI can be frequent and painful urination, pelvic pressure, pain or pressure in the lower abdomen, blood in urine, and discharge.
How common are UTI in Men?
Urinary tract infections primarily affect women, and it is very rare for a male to be affected. The worldwide average of urinary tract infections affecting men is 3%.
A UTI can get complicated and spread to body parts like the kidneys when men are affected. In some instances, surgery is required.
UTI symptoms in Men
Men with UTIs usually don’t show symptoms, but some do. The most common recurring symptoms in men that have UTIs are
- Pain during urination
- Blood in urine
- A slow urine stream
- Pain in the lower midsection of the abdomen.
Men with more complicated UTIs have been recorded to experience the following symptoms:
How to diagnose UTI in Men
When determining if you have a UTI, your doctor will ask you specific questions. If you are sexually active, this can put you at a higher risk of getting a UTI.
If your doctor thinks that the problem may be related to your prostate, then your doctor may require you to get a prostate exam.
It is rarely the case when a doctor would x-ray or get an ultrasound for you to better look at your urinary tract.
Instead, the most common way that a doctor will test to see if you have a UTI is with a urine test.
Treatment of UTI in Men
Doctors usually prescribe orally taken antibiotics to treat UTIs. Your antibiotics are typically prescribed based on what part of the urinary tract is infected.
If you have a lower tract infection, usually a week or less worth of antibiotics is prescribed.
However, you may need antibiotics for up to 2 weeks if an upper tract infection occurs.
In some rare cases, hospitalization occurs for those with severe UTI conditions. Talk to your doctor for the best UTI treatment option for you.
Causes of UTI in Men
Many factors could go into effect when considering the cause of a UTI. For example, a UTI can happen due to infrequent urination or poor toilet hygiene.
The most common cause of a UTI, specifically in the urethra, is a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
STDs are the most common cause of UTIs in young men especially.
Prostate problems are also known to cause UTIs, especially in older men.
An enlarged prostate (BPH) can block the flow of urine and can lead to a greater risk of a UTI.
Prostatitis is known to share the same symptoms as a UTI. Diabetes and other diseases affecting your immune system can also cause a UTI in men.
UTI Risk Factors for Men
Multiple factors put men at risk for a UTI, such as:
- Bladder catheter insertion
- Kidney stones
- Unprotected anal intercourse
Generally, older adults are known to have an increased risk of developing a UTI. This is because older men have been known to have things like an enlarged prostate (BPH) or a catheter, which makes it easier for them to develop such a UTI.
Sexually active men have also been known to develop UTIs. At the same time, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are far more common.
In addition, UTIs are relatively common in those who are sexually active—specifically cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea.
It is also shown that younger men with an uncircumcised penis have a higher chance of getting an STI.
What are the effects of UTIs in males?
There are many different ways that a UTI can affect a male. Here are the top 5 significant ways a UTI can affect your day-to-day life.
It can cause infectious diseases of the urogenital tract.
If there are many male patients with urinary tract infections, orchitis, epididymitis, or inflammation of the seminal vesicle, urethritis will occur.
In this case, men may need to get prescribed an herbal diuretic or an anti-inflammatory pill for a cure.
It may affect fertility. Fertility may be affected due to the formation of sperm and transportation of sperm being affected. It can also cause sperm deformity or low sperm motility.
It can cause an ejaculation disorder. A UTI can cause urethritis which can lead to ejaculation dysfunction.
Left untreated, it can leave scars at the local part of the infection sight.
Left untreated, it can lead to other diseases and conditions, such as premature ejaculation, seminal vesicle adenitis, vas deferens obstruction, and impotence.
Lastly, it can lead to sexual dysfunction. It can affect the function of the male urinary tract, gonad, and accessory gonad, as well as the normal function of the external genitalia, significantly impacting your sexual life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes, men can get a UTI through sex with a woman.
UTIs occur through the transfer of bacteria from a woman’s urethra to a man’s penis during sexual activities.
Bacteria can be spread through oral, anal, vaginal sex, or sex toys already carrying the bacteria.
More than likely, yes. This is because of the length of the urethra. Men’s urethras are long, whereas women’s are short.
Because of the length of men’s urethras gives them an extra layer of protection against bacterial invasion.
As a result, it takes more bacteria for a man to develop a UTI than for a man to develop one.
If the hands and the groin area are not kept clean, it could be easy for an infection to happen.
Another likely cause is that it’s easy for the UTI to pass through the urethra due to poor physical resistance.
No stress alone can not cause a UTI in males. Although with enough stress, your immune system function could be compromised, making you more susceptible to other diseases and infections.
There are many different ways to prevent urinary tract diseases, so here are the best practices to prevent you from having a UTI.
Drink lots of fluids. You’ll have to use the bathroom more frequently when drinking lots of water.
Use the bathroom more. While it may be inconvenient, use the bathroom immediately.
Waiting to use the toilet can cause bacteria build-up, making you more susceptible to UTIs and other diseases like bladder infections.
Practice safe sex. Practicing safe sex also includes having sex in a sterile environment.
Another thing to consider is after sex, be sure to urinate. Although no study has verified the effect of cranberry juice in preventing UTIs, the juice can ease the discomfort of an infection.
The final tip to prevent yourself from getting a UTI is to keep your genitals clean.
If you’re uncircumcised, wash under the foreskin each time you shower or bathe.