UTIs in men
Reviewed by our clinical team
A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a really common medical complaint that can usually be cleared up with a short course of antibiotics.
UTIs are most common in women, however they can also affect men, particularly those with a condition affecting the prostate, kidneys or bladder. Read on to learn more about UTIs in men, including how and when to get treatment.
What are the causes of UTIs in men?
UTIs are usually caused by the bacteria in your poo getting into your urinary tract, i.e. the urethra ( the tube where wee comes out), bladder and kidneys. This is more likely to happen in women, because women have a shorter urethra that is closer to the anus, making it easier for the bacteria to enter and travel through the urinary tract.
Lots of things can increase your risk of getting a UTI, including:
- Having sex
- Having a condition that blocks your urinary tract like kidney stones
- Having a condition that prevents your bladder from draining
- Having a urinary catheter
- Having a weak immune system
- Not drinking enough water and other fluids
- Not keeping your genitals clean
In men, an enlarged prostate gland can make it difficult to empty your bladder fully, which can put you more at risk of developing a UTI.
UTI symptoms in men
The signs of UTIs in men are the same as they are for women:
- A painful or burning sensation when you urinate
- Needing to urinate more often than usual, including during the night
- Having the sudden, urgent need to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in your urine
- Pain in your abdomen or back
- A very high or a very low temperature
In elderly people or those who have a urinary catheter, a UTI can cause psychological symptoms including confusion, agitation and changes in behaviour. They may also wet themselves and shiver or shake.
UTI treatment for men
If you’re a man with the symptoms of a UTI, the NHS advises that you see a GP. At your appointment you’ll be asked about your symptoms, and you may have to give a urine sample.
The standard treatment for a UTI is antibiotics – although the infection may clear up on its own. If your GP prescribes antibiotics they may tell you to start taking them straight away, or to wait to see if your symptoms clear up without treatment.
In addition to antibiotics, you can take paracetamol and ibuprofen to ease any pain. You should also try to rest and drink lots of water and other fluids – the aim is to wee regularly, and for your urine to be pale coloured.
Treatment for recurring UTIs
If you’re having recurring UTIs – i.e. you keep getting urine infections – your GP may want to run some tests to check your kidneys, bladder or prostate. An underlying condition is likely the cause if the infection is affecting the kidneys or your symptoms aren’t responding to antibiotics.
When to seek emergency treatment for a UTI
The NHS advises that you contact 111 immediately if you have a UTI and you:
- Have a very high temperature
- Feel hot and shivery
- Have a very low temperature
- Feel confused or drowsy
- Haven’t weed all day
- Have a pain your lower abdomen or in your back under your ribs
- Have blood in your urine
These kinds of symptoms are characteristic of a kidney infection, which can be serious if it’s not treated quickly.
How to avoid UTIs in the future
- Keep your genitals clean and dry
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day
- Go to the toilet when you feel the urge to urinate – don’t hold it in!
- Try to empty your bladder fully when you go to the toilet
UTI or STI?
If you aren’t sure, it’s always safest to speak to a doctor about your symptoms – either at your GP surgery or a sexual health clinic. You can also use our VideoGP service to speak to a doctor from the comfort of your own home – find out more here.