A UTI (urinary tract infection) is an infection of any part of your urinary tract including your prostate, urethra, bladder, ureters or kidneys. You may be asking yourself, “Prostate? Can men get UTIs?”
In this article, we answer that question and share some of the major causes of UTIs in men. Finally, we identify some steps you can take to prevent UTIs.
Can Men Get UTIs? Yes!
A woman is at a greater risk for UTIs because her urethra (the tube by which urine travels out of the body) is shorter than a man’s. Therefore, bacteria don’t have much of a distance to travel before reaching a woman’s bladder. That being said, men do get UTIs.
According to the National Library of Medicine, a UTI is an infection of any part of your urinary tract including your prostate, urethra, bladder, ureters or kidneys. Your urinary system is designed to fight off infections by creating a strong flow of urine out of the body. This helps to push potential bacterial invaders out of the urinary tract. But despite your best efforts to avoid infection, sometimes bacteria enter the bladder and stick around.
A common symptom in men with UTIs is pain or discomfort with urination. This pain or pressure can also happen before or after urination. Pain in the lower abdomen or groin is also a common symptom of a UTI.
Common Causes of UTIs in Men
An enlarged prostate is one of the most common causes of UTIs in men. The bladder’s primary defense against infection is the flushing action of the urinary stream. However, normal urine flow may be blocked/obstructed by an enlarged prostate. This blockage contributes to the presence of bacteria and the bacterial growth that leads to an infection.
Obstructed urine flow
When the flow of urine out of the bladder is hindered, bacteria can grow. Some men with an enlarged prostate gland may be at greater risk for a UTI because the bladder may not fully empty. As the prostate enlarges, it may constrict the urethra, this can cause a weak urinary stream and eventually, the bladder will not be able to empty completely, and begins to retain urine. This urine retention creates an environment for bacterial growth, and a UTI can occur.
Bacteria can hide deep within prostate tissue
Although many men never experience a UTI, those who do may start a pattern of recurrent UTIs. This is because bacteria often hide within the prostate tissue. Therefore, it is hard to completely eliminate the bacteria – even with a long course of antibiotic treatment.
Men with diabetes may also be at risk for repeat UTIs. Diabetes can lead to weakened immunity, and possibly increased retention of urine due to impaired function of the bladder’s nerves and muscles.
It is important to note that the only way to treat an active UTI is to take an antibiotic – usually for at least 5 to 7 days or possibly longer. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent future UTIs, regardless of gender.
Drink plenty of liquids, water is best
To promote the health of your urinary system, drink plenty of water. As the saying goes, when it comes to UTIs – ‘dilution is the solution.’ Some folks with urinary incontinence, urinary frequency or heart or kidney failure cannot drink a lot of liquids, so be sure to ask your healthcare practitioner for an alternate solution.
Don’t hold it in.
When you have an urge to urinate – don’t hold for too long – make time to get to the bathroom. Waiting to go can promote bacterial growth.
Cranberries have long been touted as a preventive remedy for UTIs. Here’s the deal. Research supports the benefit of proanthocyanidins (PACs), compounds naturally found in cranberries, for reducing the risk of getting a UTI. Bacteria that find their way into the urinary tract through the urethra will attach themselves to the inside surface of the bladder wall.
The PACs found in cranberries can actually help prevent the bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall, making them easier to flush out, so they won’t hang around long enough to cause an infection.
Not all PACs ARE created equal
Amy Howell, Ph.D., an associate research scientist at The Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research at Rutgers University, first discovered cranberry PACs. The A-type PACs found only in cranberries have proven bacterial anti-adhesion activity (AAA).
Foods such as green tea, chocolate, apples, and grapes also contain PACs, but they are B-type PACs. Howell determined that these A-type PACs found in cranberries could bind to and prevent the adhesion of E. coli bacteria. E. coli is the most common bacteria that cause a UTI. When the E. coli bacteria bind to PACs, this makes it easier for them to be flushed out in the urine before a UTI can start.
Dr. Howell’s research examined a daily dose of 36 mg PACs from whole cranberry fruit and confirmed that this amount can help prevent bacteria from adhering to the wall of the urinary tract.
Does cranberry juice have the same benefits as a cranberry supplement?
Some people will try to use cranberry juice or other cranberry foods to prevent UTIs. However, you must take the required dose of 36 mg of PACs every day without fail, and this is a difficult habit to maintain every day.
For example, you would need to consume 8-10 ounces of 27% cranberry juice, 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries, ½ cup cranberry sauce or 1 ounce of sweetened dried cranberries daily.
Every. Single. Solitary. Day.
So if you’re on vacation or it’s the holidays and you have traditional meals planned, you would need to maintain your daily habit of cranberry foods or drink to give your body 36 mg PACs. Many people are concerned about the calorie and sugar content of supplements, and they find it easier to rely on a calorie-free, sugar-free cranberry supplement to help ward off a UTI.
If you have a UTI be sure to follow your healthcare practitioner’s advice on how to treat it. Consider taking a supplement with 36 mg PACs from whole cranberry fruit to help prevent future infections. Finally, don’t wait, and see your healthcare practitioner if you have symptoms of a UTI.
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