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Understanding Incontinence

UTIs in Men

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more common in women, but they can also affect men. However, as men age, the risk of a urinary tract infection is higher. Discover the symptoms and treatments of UTIs in men.
Published by Adria Green
a man in discomfort due to a UTI

What is a UTI?

A UTI refers to an infection in the urinary tract. It usually begins in the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder, through the penis to be expelled from the body. Left untreated, the infection can travel up the urethra and cause an infection in the bladder (also known as cystitis). From there, it can move further up to infect the kidneys, a potentially serious condition called pyelonephritis.

men's urinary tract anatomy


How common are UTIs in men?

Men can also experience an infection of the prostate gland, medically called prostatitis, which can have similar symptoms to a UTI. The prostate is part of the reproductive system, not the urinary tract, but as the urethra passes through it, infection is easily transmitted between the two systems.

Older men are more prone to UTIs. Typically, that’s due to an enlarged prostate gland The urethra runs through the prostate and enlargement can squeeze the tube, restricting urine flow. This can lead to urine remaining in the bladder, which creates an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply and cause a urinary tract infection in men.


What are the symptoms of a UTI in men?

The onset of symptoms of a UTI in men can be very sudden and include:

  • A severe, burning pain when urinating, often described as like “peeing razor blades”
  • Frequent, overwhelming, and immediate urges to urinate – but then passing very little. This can also result in incontinence, with insufficient time to get to the toilet and adjust clothing
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Pain in the lower back or just above the pubic bone – sometimes both
  • Cloudy urine that can sometimes contain traces of blood

As mentioned, while not a UTI, an infection of the prostate can have similar symptoms, such as:

  • Pain in the lower back, abdomen, or between the scrotum and rectum
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Painful urination

It’s essential to be aware that these obvious UTI symptoms may not be present in older men. While it’s not understood exactly why, medical experts suspect it’s due to a slower or suppressed immune system. Conditions like dementia can also impede a sufferer’s ability to describe what’s going on. In older men, the following can be indicators of a UTI:

  • Agitation
  • Fever
  • Delirium
  • Increased falls
  • The sudden onset of incontinence
  • Fatigue and loss of appetite

In all cases, if you or someone your care for has an of these signs, book an appointment with your doctor immediately.


What are the Causes of UTIs in Men?

E Coli

There are a few types of bacteria that cause urinary tract infections in men. The most common is Escherichia coli, also known as E Coli. This bacterium resides in the digestive system and bowel and can find its way into the urethra. It’s usually flushed out with regular urination, but if it takes hold, it can rapidly multiply and become an infection.


Anal Sex

Anal sex with a partner of any gender might increase the penetrator’s chance of acquiring a UTI. While one American paper found no evidence that homosexual men had more UTIs than heterosexual men, the mechanics of unprotected anal sex will probably introduce E Coli into the urethra. However, if your natural immunity and general health are good and sexual hygiene is practised, it’s unlikely to cause a UTI in men.


Other Microorganisms

Other microorganisms can also cause UTIs, including the bacteria Staphylococci and Enterococci. These are more likely to be introduced to the urethra via a device such as a catheter.


Other Factors That Put Men at Risk for UTIs

  • High amounts of sugars in urine or urethra. This provides a food source for bacteria, encouraging them to grow. The sugar is usually due to poorly managed diabetes, obesity and some lubricants and spermicides
  • Urine retention. If the bladder isn’t fully emptied, retained urine can create an ideal environment for bacteria to breed and trigger an infection. In men, retention is often caused by an enlarged prostate. Kidney or bladder stones can also form blockages
  • Surgery in the area that required a catheter or other medical instruments that can transfer germs
  • Infrequent urination allows bacteria to remain in the urinary tract for longer, increasing the chance of an infection. Diluted urine is also less likely to trigger an infection compared to highly concentrated urine
  • Without gravity assisting the flow of urine through the tract and helping trigger the sensors that send messages that it’s time to empty the bladder, voiding can become less frequent
  • Suppressed or compromised immunity, making it more difficult for your body to resist an infection


How are UTIs in Men treated?

Treating UTIs in men is very straightforward. Your doctor will request a urine sample that’s tested to determine which bacterium is causing the infection, and a course of antibiotics will be prescribed. You’ll also be encouraged to drink lots of water to assist flushing the infection out.

You might also be prescribed medication to ease the severe pain when urinating, just while the antibiotics take effect.

If the urge to urinate is catching you out and causing incontinence, use the TENA Product Finder  to pick a product you can use to manage it while your treatment of UTI kicks in.


How to Prevent UTI in Men?

Following some prevention methods, it is possible to reduce the likelihood of contracting a UTI in men.

  • Drink plenty of water to keep urine diluted and ensure you’re voiding frequently
  • Go to the toilet when you feel the urge – avoid the habit of ‘holding on’
  • Keep your weight and diabetes well managed
  • Practice good sexual hygiene. Clean the areas before and after sex and urinate as soon as possible after intercourse. For anal sex, use a condom and avoid lubricants that contain glucose or other hidden sugars that feed bacteria

UTIs in men are easy to treat but left alone, they can lead to serious issues, including permanent kidney damage. If you suspect you may have one or have any other urinary problems, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your doctor and have it checked out as soon as possible.





Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.