UTIs or urinary tract infections may seem like just a "woman's problem." But the truth is that men can contract UTIs as well. While men are less likely to get UTIs than women, the infection can be more severe when they do.
Some of the most common causes of UTI symptoms in men are sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are the most common STIs and are easily passed on via unprotected sexual intercourse (including vaginal, oral and anal sex). UTIs are caused by other bugs, which are not commonly sexually transmitted.
This article discusses UTIs in men, including what they are, what to look for, how to treat them and any underlying conditions that could be causing them.
What Is A UTI?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection that can occur anywhere in the urinary tract, including the urethra and bladder. UTIs are caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract through the urethra. UTIs are relatively common, and women are more likely to experience them than men because a woman's urethra is shorter than a man's, making it easier for bacteria to travel from the outside world into the body.
However, men can still develop UTIs, especially those with diabetes, a weakened immune system, or certain other conditions. Treatment for a UTI typically involves antibiotics, and in most cases, the infection will clear up within a week.
What Are The Symptoms Of UTI In Men?
The main symptoms of UTI in men include:
- Burning or stinging when peeing
- A strong urge to urinate
- Cloudy or discoloured urine
- Stomach or pelvic pain
- Back pain
- Feeling hot or shivery
- A high temperature (fever)
If you think you have a UTI, you must see a doctor as soon as possible. If untreated, UTIs can lead to serious bladder, kidney, and even blood infections (sepsis).
What If It's Not A UTI?
If you're experiencing the symptoms of a UTI, it's important to see a doctor to get the right diagnosis, as other conditions can cause similar symptoms. For example, interstitial cystitis can cause pelvic pain and frequent urination. However, unlike a UTI, it's not caused by an infection, and antibiotics will not help to treat it. Likewise, kidney stones can cause pain and difficulty urinating and sometimes need surgical intervention. Overall, STIs are one of the most common other reasons for having symptoms of a UTI.
UTI VS STI?
Many people think that STIs and UTIs are two completely different things, but there are actually a few STIs that cause symptoms that are very similar to a UTI.
Perhaps the most important distinction between UTIs and STIs is that a UTI is an infection caused by non-sexually transmitted organisms like e.coli, which commonly live in the gut and around the anus. Conversely, STIs are infections caused by sexually transmitted organisms, like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, which like to live within the genitals.
Something to consider when trying to figure out if you have a UTI or an STI is that STIs are more common, with more than 1 million STIs acquired every day worldwide.
Signs It’s More Likely To Be An STI
The most obvious indication it’s more likely to be an STI is having had unprotected sex recently!
Other signs to look for include:
- Discharge from the penis
- Genital rash, sores or itchiness
- Swollen glands around the groin area
- Testicular discomfort or pain
- Discoloured semen (yellow, green, brown or blood-tinged)
Signs It’s More Likely To Be A UTI
- Peeing more frequently
- A rise in your urgency to pee
- Cloudy urine
- Lower abdominal pain
- Back or side pain
- Smelly urine
- Discoloured urine (dark yellow, brown or red)
- A temperature
- Nausea or feeling generally unwell
If you think you might have an STI or UTI, it's important to see a doctor for testing and treatment. Left untreated, both can cause serious health problems. There are also at-home tests you can take to rule out STIs.
Can Men Pass On A UTI?
UTIs are not passed from person to person during sex in the same way as STIs. So unless you have an STI, you don’t need to worry about passing on the infection during body-to-body contact or sexual intercourse. However, having said that, sexual intercourse does increase the risk of getting a UTI, as all that bumping and grinding can move bacteria from the back passage to the genitals, where they can multiply and cause a UTI.
Treating A UTI In Men
If you think you might have a UTI, the first step is to see your doctor. They can confirm the diagnosis with a urine test and prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. They can also help rule out possible STIs. The sooner you start treatment, the better.
Another option to rule out STIs is to get an at-home STI testing kit.
With prompt treatment, most UTIs clear up within a week or two. In the meantime, you can do a few things to ease your symptoms. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to help flush out the infection. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can irritate your urinary tract. And urinate when you feel the need — holding it in can worsen your symptoms.
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How Men Can Avoid Getting UTIs
The good news is that men can take a few simple steps to reduce their risk of UTIs.
One of the most important things men can do is practice good hygiene. Men should urinate when needed and not hold pee for too long. It is also important to empty the bladder thoroughly after urinating. And opt for showers instead of baths.
Practising safe sex principles, especially for men who have anal sex, is another way to reduce the risk of UTIs (and STIs, for that matter).
To learn more about STIs, testing kits, and overall sexual health, check out Yoxly's blog articles and pages.