Are Men Really Safer from UTI than Women?

This article explains why urinary tract infections in men, although quite rare, can be truly troubling.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) affects both women and men of all ages, although it’s far more prevalent among the former. The reason behind this lies in the anatomical differences between the two sexes. In men, the distance between the anus and the urethral opening is much longer compared with that in women. Males also have a longer urethra, which makes it harder for UTI-causing bacteria like Escherichia coli to reach the bladder and kidneys.

This isn’t to say, however, that men are completely lucky.

Prevalence in men

Out of the annual 8.3 million doctor visits spurred on by UTIs, 20% are from men. Between years 1988 and 1994, the National Health and Examination Survey estimated that per 100 000 males, 13 689 were affected by some form of this infection. It was also found that as men age, they become more susceptible to this ailment. In terms of race, however, Asians were also seen to be less vulnerable to this infection, compared with African Americans, Hispanics, and Caucasian.

Should you be worried?

Because urinary infections in adult males are quite rare, it’s usually an indication of an underlying urological condition. So until otherwise proven, it should be regarded as a complicated case. Some of the possible underlying causes of UTI in men are as follows:

  • Prostatitis. Men with prostatitis suffer from inflamed and enlarged prostate gland. The abnormal swelling of the gland may obstruct the outflow of urine from the bladder. This leads to accumulation and multiplication of bacteria that may cause urinary infection.
  • Urethral stricture. This refers to narrowing of the urethra caused by injury or infection.
  • Bladder neck obstruction. The bladder neck is a group of muscles connecting the bladder and urethra. They typically tighten to hold urine in the bladder. When unable to relax or open completely, it prevents urine from flowing out to the urethral opening.
  • Prostate cancer. The most common cancer in men, affecting millions worldwide, can produce or worsen symptoms of UTI.
  • Tight phimosis. Phimosis is a condition wherein the foreskin cannot be pulled back, which may cause difficulty in urinating.

Other alarming causes of UTI symptoms in men are kidney and bladder stones as well as tumor in various parts of the urinary system.

Risk factors

Aside from the pathophysiological underlying complications of UTI given above, there are a number of factors that make some men more susceptible to this ailment.

For instance, uncircumcised men may have an increased risk to this infection. This is one of the reasons why many medical practitioners recommend young boys to be circumcised during infancy. When the urethra is not covered by foreskin, it’s less exposed to bacteria undergrowth that may otherwise occur.

Another factor that could increase men’s risk to urinary infections is medical instrumentation. Examples of this are catheters, a tube used to drain the bladder, and cystoscopy, the process of inserting a tiny camera to examine the urethra and bladder.

Another thing to watch out for is recurring UTI. It’s often a tell-tale sign that there’s a more complex medical issue going on, such as those enumerated above.

Diagnosis and treatment

If you suspect you have its symptoms — such as urinating more often than usual or balisawsaw (especially at night), pain or burning sensation upon urinating, and pressure in the lower abdomen—it’s advisable to seek medical help right away. The process is fairly simple. Usually, your health care provider would gather a full history about your sex habits, condom use, previous cases of urinary infections, and other relevant conditions. Next, a urine sample will be analyzed to detect strains of bacteria. The results of the urinalysis are often immediately available. In some cases, a doctor would recommend further testing to examine other types of infection that may exacerbate your UTI symptoms

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