An Overview of UTI in Men

Men can get urinary tract infections

In This Article
Table of Contents

Men can get urinary tract infections (UTIs). Because UTIs are more common among women, men often don't realize that they can also develop these infections. UTIs in men cause pain with urination, as well as other symptoms. These infections can often be diagnosed with a urinalysis (U/A), also called a urine test.

Some medical conditions, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and prostate disease increase the risk of UTIs in men. Treatment for a UTI typically includes antibiotics and evaluation and management of the risk factors.

Symptoms

UTIs may cause a variety of different symptoms in men. Sometimes these infections do not cause any symptoms in the early stages and cause noticeable effects when they eventually worsen.

Symptoms of UTIs in men can include any of the following:

  • Dysuria (pain or burning when urinating)
  • A frequent feeling of constant pressure in the area of the bladder (the lower abdomen in the center)
  • Urinary urgency (a feeling that you have to go immediately)
  • Increased urinary frequency, typically with just small amounts of urine
  • Nocturia (waking up to urinate at night)
  • Cloudy appearing urine
  • Milky discharge from the penis
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Pain in the area of the bladder
  • Hematuria (blood in the urine)
  • Incontinence (loss of bladder control)
  • Flank pain (pain affecting the kidneys, on the lower back sides of the body)
  • Fevers and/or chills
  • Malaise (tiredness and lack of energy)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

You can develop any of these symptoms. And for some men, the symptoms of a UTI can come and go for weeks before they suddenly worsen.

Complications

Without treatment, UTIs can cause major health problems. In men who have a weak immune system, complications are more likely to occur.

Severe effects of a UTI that can develop in men include:

  • Pyelonephritis: An infection involving the kidneys
  • Sepsis: A dangerous, systemic, whole-body infection

Some men have recurrent UTIs. This is concerning and a sign that there is a major risk factor that needs to be treated.

Causes

UTIs can affect men of any age and for any number of reasons, and they are more common in older men. These infections are usually caused by bacteria, but they can be caused by viruses too.

There are several risk factors associated with UTIs, including:

  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Urethral stricture (blockage of the urethra)
  • Previous UTIs
  • Diabetes or problems with the immune system
  • Using a urinary catheter for a prolonged period of time
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Congenital malformation of the urinary tract
  • Cancer of the urinary tract

In some cases, urethritis can happen for no known reason, a condition referred to as non-specific urethritis (NSU).

These infections can affect any part of the urinary tract system, including the kidneys, the ureter (which connects the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder, and the urethra (through which urine leaves the body through the penis).

Urethritis is the inflammation of the urethra. It is the most common type of UTI because the urethra is an opening through which infectious organisms can enter the body.

Young boys who develop UTIs may have a congenital malformation of part of the urinary system. Men ages 20 to 35 are generally at low risk of developing UTIs unless it is caused by an STD. Having multiple sex partners and having sex without using a condom increases the risk of getting an STD.

Diagnosis

If you have symptoms of a UTI, your doctor will likely take a detailed medical history and perform a physical examination.

In addition to your history and physical examination, you may need some tests to help with your diagnosis. A urinalysis can often detect bacteria and other signs of infection. Other diagnostic tests are often needed to help identify whether there are anatomical issues that could be causing the infection.

Urine Test

A urine test may show elevated white blood cells, which are a sign of infection. Sometimes, bacteria can be identified with a urine culture. A urine culture uses a sample of urine to evaluate bacterial growth in a laboratory over the course of several days.

Red blood cells are a sign of a severe infection or more significant urinary tract disease and may be seen in the urine as well.

There are a few other medical problems that can cause some symptoms similar to those of a UTI. For example, diabetes can cause urinary frequency and urgency, and a urinalysis can differentiate between diabetes (which causes high levels of glucose in the urine) and a UTI.

Imaging Tests

You may also need to have imaging tests, such as computerized tomography (CT) or ultrasound of the pelvis. These tests can detect problems such as growths, cancer, or malformations that may predispose you to a UTI.

Diagnostic Procedures

Depending on your condition, you may need certain diagnostic procedures that can give your doctor more detailed information about your urinary tract anatomy. These tests are invasive and can be uncomfortable. If there is a concern that you could experience pain, you might need to have an anesthetic during the procedure.

A digital rectal examination is a test in which your doctor examines the size and shape of your prostate by placing their gloved finger in the rectum. This test, along with results of imaging tests, can help identify prostate enlargement or serious problems such as prostate cancer.

A cystoscopy is a test in which a tube with a camera is inserted into the urethra to observe the urethra and bladder from the inside. This test can detect anatomical defects such as strictures, and it may also help in diagnosing cancer.

Treatment

Usually, antibiotic medications are necessary for the treatment of a UTI. These are prescription medications that destroy bacteria. For the treatment of uncomplicated UTIs, oral (by mouth) antibiotics are usually adequate. However, for major complications such as sepsis or pyelonephritis, intravenous (IV) antibiotics may be typically necessary.

Your doctor may initially select an antibiotic that is usually effective for treating UTIs in men, such as Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid), Fosfomycin (Monurol), Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim and others), Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or Levofloxacin (Levaquin).

Often, people feel better within a few days after starting an antibiotic for the treatment of a UTI. However, if you stop taking your antibiotics when you feel better rather than taking the full prescription, you are likely to have a partially treated infection, with a resurgence of symptoms a few days after you stop taking your antibiotics.

You should try to stay hydrated when recovering from a UTI. Passing an adequate flow of urine helps flush out the infectious organism. Ideally, water is the best fluid for staying hydrated, because sugary or caffeinated beverages can dehydrate you.

Managing Risk Factors

Reducing your risk of UTIs may require treatment of major medical issues. For example, if you have a prostate or bladder cancer, you may need surgery. If you have a congenital malformation, you may also benefit from a corrective procedure.

Keep in mind that recurrent UTIs can predispose you to develop further UTIs because they can lead to strictures and scarring in the urethra.

A Word From Verywell

UTIs in men are not common, but any man can develop one. It is important that you seek medical attention if you develop symptoms of a UTI because these infections do not improve on their own.

Also, if you are prone to recurrent UTIs, it is vital that you discuss this with your doctor so you can have treatment to reduce your risk factors.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bono MJ, Reygaert WC. Urinary tract infection. [Updated 2018 Nov 15]. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan.

  2. Sabih A, Leslie SW. Complicated urinary tract infections. [Updated 2019 Mar 5]. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan.

  3. National Insitute of Diabetes Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Bladder Infection (Urinary Tract Infection—UTI) in Adults: Definition and Facts. Published March, 2017

  4. Figueroa TE. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). KidsHealth from Nemours. Updated May, 2016.

  5. Cleveland Clinic. Urinary Tract Infections: Diagnosis and Tests. Updated July 21, 2014.

  6. Cleveland Clinic. Urinary Tract Infections: Management and Treatment. Updated July 21, 2014.

Additional Reading