How Does a Male Get a UTI
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in men are less common, but they can occur when E. coli bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in men are less common, but they can occur when E. coli bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra. 

The urinary tract is made up of the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. Bacteria normally found around the anal opening can enter the urethra after passing stools, leading to an infection.

While UTIs are rare in younger men, the risk tends to increase with age. Other factors that increase the risk of UTIs in males include:

  • Prostate problems, such as:
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Weakened immune system due to HIV or medications (steroids)
  • Immunosuppressive drugs for other conditions
  • Blockage in the urinary tract due to kidney stones
  • History of UTIs 
  • Urinary catheter use
  • Structural deformity of the urinary tract from birth
  • Urethral stricture (narrowing of the urethra)
  • Cancer of the urinary tract, such as prostate cancer
  • Surgery that involves the urinary tract
  • Multiple sex partners or unprotected sex

Urethritis or inflammation of the urethra is the most common type of UTI.

What are the symptoms of UTI in males?

The most common symptom of UTI is painful urination. Other symptoms depend on where the UTI has developed. 

Doctors classify UTIs into two types depending on the location: 

  • Upper UTI: Infection of the urethra, bladder, or ureter
  • Lower UTI: infection of the kidney

Upper UTI symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the loins (side of the abdomen over the kidneys)
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling unwell

Lower UTI symptoms may include:

  • Pain and burning when passing urine
  • Increased frequency of passing urine
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Cloudy, bloody or smelly urine
  • Fever

Some men may not have any symptoms at all. Older men may develop confusion or a general feeling of being unwell.

How is UTI in males diagnosed?

Urine tests can confirm a diagnosis of UTI, typically a urine culture and sensitivity test to identify the bacteria that has caused the infection. 

Further tests are usually not necessary but may be ordered if UTIs keep recurring or if there is a problem in one of the organs of the urinary tract system. Tests may include:

  • Digital rectal examination, which looks for enlargement of the prostate gland or hard prostate (a sign of prostate cancer)
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test
  • Ultrasound scan of the pelvis
  • X-ray of the pelvis
  • Cystoscopy (uses a thin, flexible tube-like camera to look inside the bladder)
  • Urodynamic tests (to check bladder function)

QUESTION

How much urine does the average adult pass each day? See Answer

How is UTI treated in males?

Urinary tract infections are usually treated with oral antibiotics. In severe cases, antibiotics may be administered intravenously in a hospital setting. The choice of antibiotic depends on the type of bacteria and location of the infection. 

  • Upper UTI: Antibiotics course may last for 2 weeks
  • Lower UTI: Antibiotics course may last for 3-7 days

Can UTI cause any complications in men?

UTI rarely causes complications. If they occur, they may include:

  • Infection of the kidney (pyelonephritis): If a lower UTI remains untreated for a long time, it can spread to the kidneys and result in pyelonephritis.
  • Chronic kidney disease: Untreated kidney infection can result in permanent damage to the kidneys and lead to chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.
  • Sepsis: Sepsis refers to widespread infection in the body and is a life-threatening condition. It may result from a kidney infection that has turned serious.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/11/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Brusch JL. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Males. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/231574-overview#