A urinary tract infection is an infection caused by bacteria in any part of the urinary system, which is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. Most urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect the bladder and the urethra, which is the tube that drains urine from the bladder to outside the body.
Although a UTI is one of the most common infections in women, it is rare in men. UTIs are estimated to affect around 3 percent of men worldwide each year. This means that most men will have never had a UTI, especially if they are young.
When a UTI develops in men, it is usually considered complicated and more likely to spread to the kidneys and upper urinary tract. Some cases may even require surgery. We learn more about this condition, including its symptoms and treatment options, in this article.
Men with UTIs may have no signs or symptoms of the infection. However, when symptoms do occur, they can include:
Men with complicated UTIs can also experience one or more of the following symptoms:
These symptoms are signs that the disease has spread to the kidneys or the upper urinary tract. An infection that has spread here is a more serious problem that requires prompt treatment.
UTIs are caused by bacteria. Older men have a higher risk of having a UTI, especially if they are after the age of 50. Most cases in older men are caused by the bacterium known as Escherichia coli, which is naturally present in the body.
Cases similar to UTIs in younger men are typically caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
A UTI develops when the bacterium gets into the urinary tract through the urethra and starts multiplying.
As men have longer urethras than women, they are less prone to UTIs because bacteria need to travel a longer distance to reach the bladder.
UTIs are four times more common in women than in men.
A person's risk of developing a UTI increases if they have:
Examples of these procedures include the insertion of a tube to drain the bladder, or a small camera, known as a cystoscopy, to examine the bladder and urethra.
Men can get UTIs from women during sex, by getting the bacteria from a woman with the infection. However, this is unlikely.
Typically, the infection arises from bacteria that are already present in the man's body.