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Can Men Get UTIs?

June 14, 2024

Doctor speaking with male patient about UTIs

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), or bacterial infections that can affect the bladder, kidneys and other structures along the urinary tract, are a common ailment in women but are much rarer in men. That’s because anatomical differences between men and women make it harder for these infections to occur in men. However, UTIs in men can be a sign of a possibly serious underlying condition of the bladder, prostate or other adjacent organs.

Naeem Rahman, MD, a urologist with Atlantic Health System, shares what causes UTIs in men, their symptoms and how to treat them.

UTIs in Men

For men, UTIs can lead to painful symptoms like burning while urinating, bloody, cloudy or foul-smelling urine, kidney or prostate pain, and fever. Left untreated, these infections can spread to the bloodstream and lead to life-threatening conditions like bacteremia and sepsis.

“When a man has symptoms of a UTI, it raises the suspicion of underlying problems such as an enlarged prostate, kidney stones, or even a colon infection,” says Dr. Rahman. “That means we need to do a deeper dive to investigate what is causing these symptoms, since more serious conditions may mimic UTIs.”

These underlying conditions may include:

  • Bowel problems
  • Diverticulitis
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Kidney stones
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Cancer

Men who may be vulnerable to UTIs include older men with enlarged prostates, immunocompromised patients or patients with autoimmune disorders.

UTIs are most frequently diagnosed with a urine sample. Depending on the severity of infection, providers may also recommend additional tests for men to check for other conditions. These include:

  • CT scans
  • Cystoscopies
  • Ultrasounds

How to Treat and Prevent UTIs in Men

UTIs are usually treated with oral antibiotics for one to two, with longer courses recommended if the infection has spread to the prostate or kidneys. In severe cases, patients with UTIs may be admitted to the hospital to receive IV antibiotics.

Most importantly, says Dr. Rahman, physicians want to treat the underlying cause of the UTI. For example, if a prostate problem is leading to the UTI, the patient’s care team may address that condition with specific medication.

Men (and women) can take steps to prevent UTIs, including:

  • Going to the bathroom often and not holding urine
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Staying hydrated

If you are a man and begin feeling symptoms of a UTI, though, it’s important to talk to your doctor right away to rule out any dangerous underlying conditions.

“The complexity of a male UTI warrants a visit to the doctor since there is usually some other problem that will require medical treatment,” says Dr. Rahman. “It’s important to make sure the underlying source gets addressed. We want to look at all the symptoms and make sure things are making sense.”

Be Proactive About Your Health

To stay safe and healthy, it's good to have a primary care provider who knows and understands your health history and wellness goals.

  • Men's Health