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Male UTIs: They are rare but not non-existent

Men have an anatomical advantage over women while it comes to contracting urinary tract infection. Read on to know more on how this conditions affects men too, in smaller numbers.

Written by Saswati Sarkar |Updated : August 6, 2018 7:32 PM IST

When it comes to urinary tract infection (UTI), a bacterial attack in your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra, we generally think of women as the only victims. But men can contract urinary tract infections too. By now, we all know this, with DMK supremo M Karunanidhi hitting the headlines recently for the deterioration of his health owing to a chronic UTI. However, this condition seems to affect more women than men.

Why is UTI less common in men?

Anatomically, the urethra (the duct that expels urine out of the body from the bladder) of a man is longer than that of a woman. The length of a woman's urethra is 20 cm, while that of a woman is 4 cm. This means, the bacteria have to travel a longer distance to reach a man's bladder than a woman's. This is what makes UTI so rare in men.

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What makes men vulnerable to the condition?

In men, the main culprit behind UTIs is age. "As he ages, a man becomes more vulnerable to prostrate gland enlargement. As the prostrate gland gets bigger in size, it becomes difficult for him to pee. Accumulation of urine spikes up the chance of UTI," says urologist Dr. Abhishek Banerjee, who runs his own clinic in Kolkata. The other contributing factors include diabetes, kidney stones or a procedure that required catheter insertion. "In case of diabetics, the urine stays in the bladder for long as they take time to realise that their bladder is full. This stored urine becomes the hub for microbes," explains Dr. Banerjee. The major symptoms of this condition include difficulty in urination due to pain and burning sensation, accompanied by fever and strong-smelling, blood-stained, dark urine. There could be pain in the abdomen as well.

How is UTI treated in men?

The treatment starts with diagnostic tests. Your doctor will have the sample of your urine collected to spot pus and the bacteria causing the infection. The result will determine the course of medication. Generally, UTI is treated in men with a week-long (or slightly more) course of antibiotics and medications that relieve painful urination. However, the treatment also depends on the underlying cause. "When the cause of an UTI is diabetes, prostrate enlargement, kidney infections or a structural abnormality, the patient may need longer treatment and even surgery," says Dr. Banerjee.

How can you prevent it?

The preventive measures for UTI are similar in both men and women:

Gulp down a lot of fluids, especially water to flush out bacteria through your urine.

Do not hold your pee and make sure that your bladder is emptied fully.

Wash your genitals and urinate immediately after sex to flush out the bacteria.

Wear loose-fitting underwear with breathable materials to prevent sweat, the breeding ground for bacteria.

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