Males can get UTIs, but they are more common in females. They can stem from a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and require treatment with antibiotics.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection in the urinary system. Most UTIs affect the bladder and the urethra, which is the tube that drains urine from the bladder to outside the body. However, it can affect any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys and ureters.
Although a UTI is one of the most common infections in women, it is rare in men. When a UTI develops in men, it is usually considered complicated and more likely to spread to the kidneys and upper urinary tract. Some cases may even require surgery. The most common UTI in males is prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate gland.
This article explains whether men can get UTIs, the symptoms, causes, and risk factors. It also details the treatment for UTIs and home remedies for prevention.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Men can get UTIs, though they are much more common in women. Men with UTIs may have no signs or symptoms of the infection. However, when symptoms do occur, they
- pain during urination
- frequent urge to urinate
- inability to start urinating
- a slow urine stream or urine leakage
- a sudden need to urinate
- the release of only small amounts of urine at a time
- blood in urine
- pain in the central lower part of the abdomen
- cloudy urine with a strong odor
The most common UTI in males is prostatitis. There are two types: acute prostatitis, which includes symptoms such as not being able to pee, and chronic, which includes the above symptoms but lasts for three months or more.
Men with complicated UTIs can also experience one or more of the following
These symptoms are signs that the disease has spread to the kidneys or the upper urinary tract. An infection that has spread here is a more serious problem that requires prompt treatment.
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Bacteria cause UTIs. Older men have a higher risk of having a UTI, especially if they are after
Cases similar to UTIs in younger men are typically caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
A UTI develops when the bacterium gets into the urinary tract through the urethra and starts multiplying.
As men have longer urethras than women, they are less prone to UTIs because bacteria need to travel a longer distance to reach the bladder.
A person’s risk of developing a UTI increases if they have:
- kidney stones
- an enlarged prostate
- an abnormal narrowing of the urethra
- an inability to voluntarily control urination
- an inability to empty the bladder completely
- not drunk enough liquids
- not been circumcised
- a past diagnosis of a UTI
- urinary tract abnormalities that prevent urine from leaving the body normally or cause urine to back up in the urethra
- had anal intercourse, which can expose the urethra to bacteria
- a health condition or taking medication that suppresses the immune system
- had a procedure involving instrumentation on the urinary tract
Examples of these procedures include the insertion of a tube to drain the bladder or a small camera, known as a cystoscopy, to examine the bladder and urethra.
Can men get UTIs from women?
Men can get UTIs from women during sex by getting the bacteria from a woman with the infection. However, this is unlikely.
Typically, the infection arises from bacteria that are already present in the man’s body.
The doctor may perform a physical examination that includes:
- checking the vital signs
- checking the abdomen, bladder area, sides, and back for pain or swelling
- examining the genitals
The doctor may ask if the person has had other UTIs in the past or if they have a family history of UTIs.
They may also question the person about their symptoms.
Laboratory tests require diagnosing the infection as the symptoms of a UTI can be common to other diseases.
A urine sample is usually needed to look for the presence of pus and the bacteria causing the infection.
Men may give a urine sample to test. A man will need to start the urine stream to clean the urethra and then collect a midstream sample in a cup. As bacteria multiply quickly at room temperature, this urine sample is either sent to the laboratory immediately or kept refrigerated until later.
The doctor may also ask for a urine test strip, also known as a urine dipstick test. This is a quick test in which a plastic or paper ribbon is dipped into the urine sample and then removed. If the person has a UTI, the ribbon will turn a particular color.
To obtain the best results for this test, the doctor will probably request that a person do it first thing in the morning.
Other medical exams
UTIs in men are usually complicated and require treatment.
The goal of treatment is to prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys or the upper urinary tract.
The type of treatment used depends on the cause of the infection. Treatment plans usually include antibiotic medications to kill the bacteria and drugs to reduce the person’s symptoms, including those of pain and burning while urinating.
The duration of treatment can vary between
Medication prescribed by a doctor may include:
- antibiotics, such as nitrofurantoin (Macrobid), fluoroquinolones, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), fosfomycin, or aminoglycosides
- medications to reduce the fever
- medications to reduce or eliminate pain, including urinary analgesics such as phenazopyridine
Those with more complicated infections may require surgery. This can involve either draining areas of the urinary tract that are causing the infection or removing inflamed areas of tissue.
In addition to treatment from doctors, the following home remedies may help with treating an infection:
- Drinking plenty of liquids, especially water. This is important to stimulate urination and flush the bacteria from the body.
- Drinking cranberry juice. Although it is not scientifically proven that cranberry juice is effective against UTIs, it
contains substancesthat make it difficult for bacteria to stay in the urinary tract, helping to flush it out.
Men can take a series of actions to reduce the risk of getting a UTI, such as:
- emptying the bladder often
- drinking plenty of liquids, especially water
- carefully cleaning the area under the foreskin after showering if not circumcised
- carefully clean the genitals before and after sex to remove bacteria
- cleaning from front to back when toileting
- wearing condoms during sex
- urinating after sex to remove any bacteria occurring during sex
Below are some frequently asked questions about UTIs in men.
Can a man randomly get a UTI?
UTIs in males most often occur when bacteria present on the body enter the urinary tract through the urethra and start multiplying. Certain factors can increase the risk of UTIs in males, including having diabetes or kidney stones.
Does a UTI go away on its own in males?
UTIs in males typically require treatment to clear the infection and prevent it from spreading. Treatment depends on the type of infection, but may involve antibiotics.
How can a male clear up a UTI?
Males with a UTI can seek treatment from a healthcare professional. Their doctor may prescribe medication, such as antibiotics, and may recommend strategies such as staying hydrated.
How does someone get rid of a UTI without seeing a doctor?
Seeing a doctor is the best method to get rid of a UTI. Some sources suggest home remedies, such as drinking cranberry juice, may prevent UTIs, but no studies currently support its use as a treatment.
A doctor can prescribe treatment depending on the cause of the UTI and may recommend other steps, such as staying hydrated.
UTIs are rare in adult men. This is mainly due to the longer length of the male urethra and because the antibacterial properties of prostatic fluid prevent bacteria from growing. The incidence of the infection increases with age.
The clinical symptoms of UTIs in men are similar to those in women and include painful, urgent, and frequent urination.
UTIs in men are usually complicated and warrant antibiotic treatment to prevent complications.