Everything You Need to Know About UTIs in Men

Medically Reviewed By Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP
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When a person with a penis develops a urinary tract infection (UTI), there could also be a problem with the prostate and upper urinary tract, including the kidneys. Contact a doctor if you think you have a UTI.

Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. This article uses the terms “female” and “male” to refer to the sex assigned at birth. 

Learn more about the difference between sex and gender here.

More people search using the term “men,” so this is used throughout the piece to reflect that trend.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can develop in any part of your urinary system, including the:

  • urethra
  • bladder
  • kidneys
  • ureters

Bacteria are the cause of UTIs.

A UTI is an infection of any part of your urinary system. It can occur when bacteria enter your urethra. The urethra is the tube that leads urine from your bladder to outside your body.

This article explains the symptoms, causes, types, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of UTIs in males.

How common are UTIs in men?

Male sitting outside on a blue bench
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UTIs in adult males are rare. This is mainly because males have a longer urethra than females, and their prostatic fluid has antibacterial properties that prevent the growth of bacteria.

A 2017 report states that UTIs affect around 3% of the worldwide male population every year. Most males will never have a UTI. The incidence of UTIs increases with age.

What causes UTI in men?

Bacteria can cause UTIs. These infections are more common in older people. A 2022 review states that the Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacterium is the most common cause of UTIs. E. coli is naturally present in the body.

A UTI develops when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra, reach the bladder, and multiply.

The same 2022 review says UTIs are four times more common in females than in males. The main reason males are less prone to develop UTIs than females is that a male’s urethra is longer, and the bacteria need to travel a longer distance before reaching the bladder.

You may have a higher risk of developing a UTI if you have the following:

Read more about urinary tract infections.

What are the symptoms of UTI in men?

Males with UTIs may have no symptoms of the infection. However, if symptoms occur, they may include:

  • a frequent need to urinate
  • pain during urination
  • the sudden need to urinate
  • cloudy urine with a pungent odor
  • blood in the urine
  • pain in the central lower part of the abdomen

If the infection has spread to your kidney or the upper urinary tract, you may experience more severe symptoms of UTIs, such as:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever
  • chills
  • back or side pain

Contact your doctor for treatment if you have any of these symptoms alongside other UTI symptoms.

Are there different types of UTIs?

Doctors categorize UTIs as uncomplicated or complicated. Doctors treat uncomplicated UTIs with antibiotics, and you should recover from the infection within 3 days to 6 weeks if you follow treatment instructions.

A complicated infection involves any factor more likely to become resistant to treatment or cause further complications.

Doctors also consider UTIs as complicated if they affect certain groups of people. This may include:

  • pregnant people
  • people who are immunocompromised
  • older adults
  • people who use catheters
  • people who experience recurring UTIs

Contact your doctor if you think you have a UTI. Your doctor may need a sample of your urine to make a diagnosis. They may also recommend getting an ultrasound to check your urinary system.

How are UTIs in men diagnosed?

To diagnose a UTI, your doctor will ask about your medical history. They will also typically perform a physical examination to check for signs of UTIs.

They will collect a sample of your urine for analysis. If you have a UTI, your urine may contain traces of the bacteria causing the infection.

If your doctor believes you may have diabetes, kidney stones, or other underlying conditions, they might recommend further testing.

How are UTIs in men treated?

UTIs in males may be complicated or uncomplicated but always require treatment. Usually, the goal of the treatment is to prevent the spread of the infection to your upper urinary tract and kidneys.

The duration of the treatment may vary from 3 days to 6 weeks, depending on how severe your infection is. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to clear the bacteria.

They may also give you other medications to reduce your symptoms, such as pain and a burning sensation when you urinate.

Treatment for UTIs may include:

  • antibiotics, such as:
    • fluoroquinolones
    • nitrofurantoin (Macrobid)
    • fosfomycin
  • medications to reduce fever
  • medications to eliminate or reduce the pain, such as phenazopyridine

In the most severe UTI cases, you may need to undergo surgery. During the surgery, your doctor may drain areas of your urinary tract that cause your infection or remove inflamed areas of tissue.

What are the potential complications of UTIs in men?

UTIs can spread to your kidneys and upper urinary tract. If you think you have a UTI, contact your doctor.

If your UTI has spread to your kidney, you may have symptoms including:

  • fever and chills
  • nausea or vomiting
  • pain in your back or sides that does not change if you change position
  • a burning sensation while you urinate

If you leave pyelonephritis or an upper urinary tract infection untreated, the infection may cause sepsis, a life threatening condition. Treatment for sepsis includes intravenous antibiotics, fluids, and hospitalization.

Symptoms of sepsis may include:

Read about 8 causes of bladder problems in males.

How can you prevent UTIs?

You can reduce the risk of getting a UTI by following some simple actions, such as:

  • drinking plenty of water and other liquids
  • cleaning genitals before and after sex
  • urinating after sex
  • keeping your genitals clean
  • using condoms or other barriers during sex

Frequently asked questions

Here are some common questions about UTIs in males. They have been reviewed by Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP.

Is a UTI an STD?

A UTI is not considered a contagious condition nor a sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, a person may pass the bacteria causing a UTI to their partner.

How can I get rid of a UTI quickly?

If you have a UTI, you should begin to feel better within 24 to 48 hours after starting antibiotics. However, this depends on how severe your infection is. Your doctor can recommend a treatment duration varying from 3 days to 6 weeks, depending on your conditions.

Even if you begin to feel better, be sure to complete the full course of antibiotics.

Summary

UTIs can affect any part of your urinary system. Bacteria is a common cause of the development of UTIs. If you have certain underlying conditions, such as diabetes, you may have a higher risk of developing a UTI.

UTIs are more uncommon in males. However, when they occur, the infection may also involve the prostate, ureter and/or kidneys. Contact your doctor if you have a UTI or experience symptoms.

The doctor will perform a physical examination and take a sample of your urine. They may recommend taking antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection. This should improve your pain and symptoms.

However, if the antibiotic treatment is not working, speak with your doctor about the next steps in your treatment.

The duration of antibiotic treatment may last up to 6 weeks, depending on the severity of your infection. However, you may feel better within a couple of days of starting the treatment. Be sure to complete the course of antibiotics even if you begin to feel better.

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Medical Reviewer: Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 15
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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