How Do Men Get UTIs? Tips, Treatment, & Prevention
Normally when we talk about UTIS, we talk directly to women. The reason for that is simple: women get significantly more urinary tract infections than men do.
For men under 50, only around 5 out of 10,000 will ever get a urinary tract infection. Though that number increases as men age, it is nowhere near the UTI frequency of women.
However - just because men are getting fewer UTIs does not mean it isn’t happening – and it is just as much a painful experience.
So let’s dive into male UTIs. Why are they so rare? How do men get them? Are there any real differences or things to look out for? What can men do to prevent urinary tract infections? I’m here to answer all your questions.
What Are We Talking About When We Talk About A Male Urinary Tract Infection?
Technically any infection throughout the male urinary system can be classified as a UTI.
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Here is a run down of all the types of urinary tract infections a man can get:
- Urethritis (ureter infection)
- Cystitis (bladder infection)
- Prostatitis (prostate infection)
- Orchitis (testicle infection)
- Epididymitis (epididymis infection)
- Pyelonephritis (kidney infection)
Normally, though, when we talk about UTIs, we are really referring to cystitis (AKA that pesky bladder infection). That is what I want to talk about primarily throughout this article.
Why Are UTIs Rare In Men?
So why exactly do women experience so many UTIs while men generally fly by without one in their whole lives? The simple answer is anatomy.
The urethra is the very end of the urinary tract. It’s what brings the urine out of the body. The further bacteria have to travel to get to the bladder (in other words, the longer the urethra…), the less of a chance bacteria will enter the bladder and cause a painful UTI.
So just how different are men’s urethras from women’s urethras?
This means any bacteria that enters a man’s urethra has to travel 5 times the distance to make it to the bladder. This long journey is what makes UTIs so rare in men – it is nearly impossible for the E. coli (or other bacteria) to make it all the way up to the bladder with any success.
So Then What Causes Those Rare Male UTIs?
Despite the rarity, we know that men can still get urinary tract infections. So what is the main culprit behind them if they have the extra guard of a long urethra?
There are actually quite a few causes. In fact, most male UTIs are considered “complicated” because they are “more likely to be associated with anatomic abnormalities” and other more complicated issues than a woman’s common UTI. These complications often include:
- Kidney stones
- Enlarged prostate
- Unusual/abnormal narrowed urethra
- Immune system issues
Other common reasons men can develop UTIs is a recent catheterization or a small medical camera may have introduced bacteria into the urinary tract.
But, as we already know, age is the #1 factor. This is because there are more chances that abnormalities like prostatic disease or bladder outlet obstruction become more common.
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Is There Anything Different When A Man Gets A UTI?
For the most part a UTI in a woman and a UTI in a man have similar symptoms:
- Frequent urge to urinate, even though not much urine normally comes out
- Burning, painful urination
- Blood in urine
- Cloudy urine
- Aches in lower abs/back
But there is one unique symptom for men. If fluid seeps from your penis, you just may have a UTI – and you should probably head to the doctor.
Since most men are older when they get a urinary tract infection, it is also important to mention that sometimes symptoms of UTIs are different in the elderly than in most adults. These symptoms could include fever, fatigue/lethargy, and poor appetite without the urge or burn.
Of course, it’s important to mention the symptoms of a kidney infection. Often times this means your UTI has traveled up through the urinary tract. Symptoms include: higher fever/chills, nausea/vomiting, side pain (flank pain), and fatigue. If you have any of these symptoms, make sure to make an immediate appointment with your doctor, as kidney infections can be significantly more complicated than bladder infections.
How Do Men Treat UTIs?
A urinary tract infection is most often treated with a round of antibiotics. For women with frequent UTIs, this can become problematic as too many rounds of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance and messed up yeast/Candida/good bacteria levels.
Since men are rarely getting frequent UTIs, one singular round of antibiotics should not cause too much harm to the body. However, if you are a man who finds himself getting multiple UTIs, you should consider some alternate options to prevent the pain. I will give you a list of those options below.
While you are healing up, you can always try over-the-counter pain relievers and a heating pad over your lower stomach to ease any of the pain.
How Do Men Prevent UTIs?
Like I promised earlier, let’s get into that list of prevention tips. Men can prevent UTIs in the same way women can:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water: The more you need to urinate, the more you flush out the urethra of any bacteria
- Take natural supplements like D-mannose or Hibiscus extract: These supplements have been scientifically shown to combat UTIs and to prevent them from coming back again
- Wash up after sex: Though this can be even more helpful for preventing a UTI in your female partner, washing away any bacteria from your genital area can prevent any infection
- Talk to your doctor: If you have some “anatomic abnormality” that we mentioned above, your doctor should be able to talk you through your options to prevent UTIs
One step unique to men in particular is for those who aren’t circumcised. Make sure you clean beneath the foreskin every single time you take a shower. This limits the opportunity for bacterial grow so close to your urethra.