Urinary Tract Infections in Men

Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

A man sits in a doctor’s office.
A man sits in a doctor’s office.. Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Although urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more common in women than in men, millions of urinary tract infections develop in men each year. Infections of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra, can be very serious, and in some cases even life threatening. That's why it's important to understand the causes and symptoms and seek treatment quickly.

Causes of Urinary Tract Infections

The function of the urinary system is to rid the body of liquid waste (about a quart and a half of urine per day), keep a healthy balance of substances and salts in the blood and produce a hormone that contributes to the formation of red blood cells​.

The flow of urine helps prevent infection by washing out infectious agents. The prostate gland also produces fluids that slow bacterial growth.

Urine is normally sterile, but under certain circumstances, bacteria, such as E-coli that live in the colon, can move into the urethra, causing an infection called urethritis. The infection may move up the system to the bladder or to the kidneys.

Men most at risk for a UTI include:

  • Those with abnormalities of the urinary tract, such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate
  • Those who have a catheter or tube placed in the bladder
  • Those who have diabetes or any disease that suppresses the immune system

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection in Men

Although some men who have a UTI do not have any symptoms, most men will experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent urge to urinate but the amount of urine passed is often small
  • Painful, burning feeling in the area of the bladder or urethra during urination
  • Fatigue
  • Fever (this often means that the infection has moved into the kidney)
  • Cloudy or milky urine (blood may also be present, in which case the color will be reddish)
  • Offensive-smelling urine
  • Nausea and even vomiting may occur in kidney infections
  • Back pain

Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infections

If you're exhibiting symptoms of a UTI, your doctor will ask you for a urine sample and will send it to be tested for bacteria.

Further tests, such as an intravenous pyelogram, ultrasound or cystoscopy may be required to detect the cause of urinary infections, especially if they recur or do not respond to the medication your doctor orders.

Treating a Urinary Tract Infection

Antibiotics are typically prescribed to kill the bacteria that is causing the infection. It's important to take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor, even if your symptoms appear to clear up before you're finished.

Check out these resources for more information about urinary health:

11 Signs You May Have a Urinary Tract Infection

Urology: Symptoms and Diagnostic Tests

Your First Visit to a Urologist: How to Prepare, What to Bring and What Questions to Ask

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