I'm a man. Why do I keep getting UTIs?

UTIs are most commonly associated with women, but men can (and do) get them too.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are caused by a bacterial infection in the urinary tract. And while the symptoms are the same in both men and women (constant urge to urinate, burning sensation while peeing, low-grade fever), the causes are different. 

What causes chronic UTIs in men?

Chronic UTIs in men are uncommon, but they often have two main causes: foreskin problems and prostate problems.

‘In younger men, UTIs can be caused by a tight foreskin or they can be caused by urethral strictures which is a narrowing of the urethra often caused by previous infections, an operation/catheterisations of the urethra or possibly trauma,’ Roland Morley, a trustee of The Urology Foundation and a consultant urologist at Imperial College Healthcare, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘In older men, the prostate is often the problem. 

‘Older men can have issues with emptying their bladder, because of an enlarged prostate and the inability to empty the bladder properly can lead to UTIs.’

Men, including younger men, are also more likely to get chronic prostatitis, he says, which mimics the symptoms of a UTI.

‘The symptoms of chronic prostatitis are very similar to those of UTIs and include the need to pass water more frequently and more urgently, burning sensation, lower abdomen pain, pain in the perineal area, and a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder,’ he says.

What are the main risks of chronic UTIs for men?

For men, the biggest risk of recurrent UTIs is a decreased quality of life, but they could also lead to worse health problems if left untreated.

‘If a man suffers from recurrent infections, it can lead to infections in the kidneys which can be severe – particularly if the bladder isn’t emptied completely,’ says Roland.

‘It can be associated with chronic prostatitis and enlargement of the prostate.’ 

Chronic UTIS can also cause urethral strictures [restrictions of the urethra], he adds, which may require surgery to fix, or epididymo-orchitis, an infection of the testicles. 

How to avoid getting UTIs as a man

Lifestyle factors are the main cause of UTIs, such as poor fluid intake and dehydration, as well as not emptying your bladder often enough. 

‘To avoid UTIs ensure a good fluid intake and make sure you pass water regularly,’ says Roland.

That said, he adds, men with UTIs must always seek medical advice. 

‘To identify a potential cause, further investigations, such as an ultrasound of kidneys and urinary tract and telescopic examination of the bladder, may be required,’ he says. 

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