Yes, men can also get urinary tract infections. UTIs are much more common in women, but almost 15% of men will also get a UTI at some point in their lifetime!1
Men can develop infections because of some of the same risk factors - including the transfer of bacteria during sex, and poor physical health (including having an impaired immune system) caused by certain chronic illnesses. There are also some male-specific risk factors, but firstly…
What are the signs of UTI in men?
The most common symptoms of UTI in men are the same as those of UTI in women2 :
- Pain when peeing
- Needing to pee more often than usual
- Needing to pee very suddenly
- Having to get up frequently in the night to pee
Could these symptoms mean anything else?
For men, these symptoms can also be a sign of prostate disorders like prostatitis or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). One of the most important differences between UTI in men and women is the role of the prostate.
In men, the prostate sits around the urethra (the tube which passes urine from the bladder out of the body), which means it is in very close proximity to the urinary tract.
Prostatitis is an infection of the prostate, and some of the same species of bacteria are found in cases of prostatitis as in cases of UTI in men,3 meaning that uropathogenic (infection-causing) bacteria may pass between the prostate and urinary tract. Prostatitis also shares similar symptoms to UTI, including those mentioned above, but may also involve pain on ejaculation and having a tender prostate.4
Although the two types of infection are interlinked, there are methods a doctor can use to differentiate between the two,5 so that the most appropriate treatment can be prescribed.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is also a common condition in older men.6 As men get older, the prostate gland can expand, which in most cases is harmless, but it can also cause urinary symptoms and be a risk factor for infection. As the prostate expands, it pushes on the urethra, making it more difficult to pass urine. This can cause discomfort and make you feel the urge to pee more often. And if urine stays in the body for longer, there is a greater chance that bacteria in the urine will cause an infection.
The main UTI causes in men
So, apart from the involvement of the prostate and older age, are there any other UTI causes in men?
As with UTI in women, sex is an important risk factor. When the partners of women with UTI have been tested, similar species of bacteria have been found in the urine, showing that it is possible for harmful bacteria to be passed between partners.7
If you or your partner experience UTIs which keep coming back, it can be a good idea for both of you to get tested, to break the potential cycle and prevent getting a UTI from sex.
Other UTI causes include having had previous UTIs, catheter use, and having any issues with the way the urinary tract is structured and/or functions.
So, if you fall under any of these categories and may be prone to UTIs, what can you do to make sure you don’t develop one?
How to prevent UTI after sex - Because sex is a risk factor for UTI in both sexes, it is important to keep good hygiene. Washing and going to the toilet before and after sex are good habits to build, especially if you know you or your partner are prone to UTIs.
Drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy, balanced diet also means that your body is better equipped to fight off potentially harmful bacteria, and is the best way to avoid constipation (another risk factor for UTI).
Have a read of our blogs Does drinking cranberry juice really help prevent a UTI? and Do I have a UTI or am I just eating too much beetroot? for more prevention tips!
If you have other health complications, or use a catheter, and are worried about UTIs, then it is a good idea to discuss the risk with your doctor. By having that conversation you can build a more complete and well-informed plan for managing your condition, and can avoid any further complications such as UTI.
I might have a UTI, how do I treat it?
If you are suffering with the symptoms mentioned above and are worried that you might have a UTI, it is important that you get the most appropriate treatment.
Speak to your doctor straight away, especially if you also have signs of a fever and/or nausea, as this can be an indication of a kidney infection and will require immediate treatment.
Urine dipstick for UTI is advised against in some cases of male UTI,8 so your doctor will be more likely to ask for a urine sample in order to do a urine culture. If the result is positive, a 7-day course of antibiotics is recommended.
This course of antibiotics has recently been reduced since researchers have discovered that prescribing longer courses only adds to the risk of antibiotic resistance and is actually of no benefit to patients!9
If you have a female partner who suspects a UTI, they can get a better idea of whether that is the case by using the TestCard UTI test kit (available at any of these pharmacies: Superdrug, Dears Pharmacy, Midway Pharmacy, Weldricks Pharmacy).
3Lupo, F., & Ingersoll, M. A. (2019). Is bacterial prostatitis a urinary tract infection?. Nature Reviews Urology, 16(4), 203-204.
5Schaeffer, A. J., & Nicolle, L. E. (2016). Urinary tract infections in older men. New England Journal of Medicine, 374(6), 562-571.
7Lipsky, B. A. (1999). Prostatitis and urinary tract infection in men: what’s new; what’s true?. The American journal of medicine, 106(3), 327-334.
9Drekonja, D. M., Trautner, B., Amundson, C., Kuskowski, M., & Johnson, J. R. (2021). Effect of 7 vs 14 days of antibiotic therapy on resolution of symptoms among afebrile men with urinary tract infection: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA, 326(4), 324-331.