Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Yana Barbalat
Okay, guys. We know you’ve been a little left out of the UTI conversation. To be fair, women are 8 times more likely to get a urinary tract infection than men.
But one common truth remains: dudes need to pee, too. And if you’ve got a urinary tract, that means it has the potential to get infected. In fact, 12% of men will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime.
A urinary tract infection happens when bad bacteria start to multiply in the urinary tract. For men, that includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. The most frequent form of UTI is a bladder infection, also known as cystitis. UTIs are more common in women because they have shorter urethras, but there are a number of factors that put men at risk for developing painful and chronic UTIs.
So how can men spot UTIs and stop them from coming back? We’re breaking down everything you need to know about UTI in men, from causes to symptoms and long-term prevention.
Why do men get UTIs?
Just like in women, there are multiple causes of UTIs in men. Most of them involve bacteria already in the body, like E. coli, that finds its way into the urinary tract.
Incomplete bladder emptying is one of the most common causes of UTIs. As men age, the prostate gland becomes enlarged. Sometimes the enlarged prostate blocks the flow of urine out of the body, causing old urine to remain in the bladder. This allows any bacteria that happens to get in to hang around and multiply. This is precisely why UTIs are a lot more common in men over the age of 60.
Another UTI risk for men? Catheters. Any procedure that requires something to be inserted into the urethra (ouch) can introduce new bacteria to the urinary tract. In addition, the longer a catheter stays in, the higher the likelihood of developing a urinary tract infection. The daily risk of acquiring a UTI is 3-7% when there is a catheter in the bladder.
Here are some other common causes of UTIs in men:
- Not drinking enough fluids or holding in your pee
- Diabetes or health conditions that result in a poor immune system
- Kidney stones
- Being uncircumcised, which allows bacteria to gather around the tip of the penis
- Anal sex, which exposes the urethra to E. coli from the intestines
- An abnormally narrow urethra
Can a man get a UTI from having sex with a woman?
Sex is one of the leading causes of UTI for women. But for men, the risk looks a little different.
The male urethra is long and the prostatic fluid that gets released during ejaculation has antibacterial properties. That's why men are unlikely to get a UTI from having sex. But if he gets a sexually transmitted disease (STD), that’s a different story.
STDs are actually the most common cause of UTIs in younger men. Chlamydia and gonorrhea, in particular, can overwhelm the urinary tract with bad bacteria. STDs and UTIs also have a lot of the same symptoms, which is why they tend to go hand-in-hand.
What are the signs of UTI in men?
Depending on where the infection is, men will experience all of the same UTI symptoms as women.
Signs of a bladder infection or cystitis in men can include:
- Frequent peeing
- Strong urge to pee
- Burning sensation during or after peeing
- Cloudy urine with a strong odour
- Blood in the urine
The infection can also spread to the prostate. A sign of a prostate infection is:
- Burning in the urethra
- Difficulty peeing
- Urgency and frequency to pee
- Fever and chills
- Lower abdominal pain
If the infection spreads to the kidneys, UTI in men symptoms can include:
- Pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen, sides, or upper back
- Nausea and vomiting
UTI symptoms should not be ignored in men and must be investigated by your family doctor.
How are UTIs in men diagnosed?
A urine sample is the first step to diagnosing a UTI. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor will be able to estimate if the infection is in the lower tract (the bladder or urethra) or the upper tract (the ureters or kidneys).
In some cases, your doctor might also perform a prostate exam to check for issues there. An x-ray or ultrasound can help them get a better look at your urinary tract and prostate gland to make a final diagnosis.
How do you treat a UTI in men?
Antibiotics are the most effective way to combat a pesky UTI. Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic treatment based on where your infection is located and how far along it is. UTIs in men are generally treated for a longer period of time than in women, anywhere from 7 to 28 days.
During treatment, the golden rule is to always finish your antibiotics (as prescribed by your doctor). Most men will start to feel better by day 3. But if you stop taking your pills, your body and the infection itself can become antibiotic-resistant, making it much harder to treat future infections.
If left untreated, a bladder infection can spread to the kidneys or the prostate, which is very dangerous. From there, the bacteria can find its way into the bloodstream, and cause a life-threatening condition called sepsis. That’s why it’s vital to start treatment as soon as you can after noticing the symptoms of a UTI.
How can you prevent UTIs in men?
There’s no nice way to say it - UTIs suck. For men who suffer from chronic UTIs, the pain and constant urge to pee can be debilitating. Some men can even go years without finding the right antibiotic or UTI treatment over the counter. Just imagine the toll that can take on someone’s mental health and quality of life.
That’s why education and prevention are key. There are countless ways that men can be proactive and avoid UTIs, including taking daily supplements to keep bacteria at bay.
Utiva’s Cranberry PACs supplement is packed with 36mg per dose of PACs - a powerful compound found in cranberries that stops bacteria from sticking to your urinary tract lining. 100% natural and clinically proven to prevent UTIs, this super supplement is high in antioxidants and recommended by doctors across North America.
Besides prevention supplements, here are our top UTI prevention tips for men:
- Don’t hold in your pee for long periods of time.
- Drink lots of fluids so that you can flush bacteria out of your system more often.
- Keep genitals clean and dry, especially the tip of the penis, with Utiva’s cleansing wipes.
- Practice safe sex to prevent STDs that cause UTIs.
- Pay attention to your prostate and get treatment for any issues, especially if you’re over the age of 60.
Talk to other men about UTI prevention
It’s so easy for men to feel like they’re alone in their UTI battle. But the truth is, UTIs aren’t just a women’s issue. The more we talk openly about UTIs in men, the easier it will be for them to prevent infections long-term.
That’s why we created the Utiva Community group. This is a safe space where you can talk to other men about UTI pain, causes, and prevention. Plus, get helpful tips and tools from doctors and UTI experts. Join now!
Want to keep learning about UTIs? Check out the Utiva blog for more information, education, and prevention tips from our in-house experts.