How UTIs Present Differently In Men Versus Women

Dealing with a urinary tract infection (UTI) can be extremely frustrating, especially if your symptoms keep returning. In such cases, your doctor may order additional tests and prescribe daily antibiotics, explains the Office on Women's Health. Researchers also say that UTIs are more common in females than in males because of their anatomy. The female urethra is relatively short compared to a male urethra, and is closer to the vaginal and anal openings, which facilitates the spread of bacteria. Given these aspects, it's not surprising that more than half of women will develop UTIs in their lifetime.

UTIs are typically caused by pathogenic bacteria, such as Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, and Escherichia coli, or fungal microorganisms like Candida albicans, according to a 2019 review published in Therapeutic Advances in Urology. It also notes that for women, certain factors, including their age, health status, and sex life, might influence their risk of urinary tract infections. Antibiotic resistance may play a role, too. In some cases, the infection can spread from the bladder to the kidneys, causing pyelonephritis, or renal infection. 

The Urology Care Foundation estimates that about 40% of women and 12% of men will experience UTIs at some point in life. This condition can also affect children, especially girls under the age of five. The symptoms can vary between men and women; some people experience no symptoms, but the infection is still there and may need treatment later on.

UTI symptoms in men vs. women: Learn to recognize the signs

Urinary tract infections cause slightly different symptoms in men and women. Generally, female patients experience a burning sensation or pain when peeing, as well as a sudden need to urinate. These symptoms are often accompanied by pelvic pressure, says the Office on Women's Health. Teens and young women are more likely to get blood in their urine, whereas older women may feel unwell in other ways. Fatigue, weakness, confusion, and shakiness are common in the latter group. 

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to experience rectal pressure, says the Illinois Department of Public Health. They may not feel pressure and discomfort in the pelvis, but like women, they might have a burning sensation when urinating. Dysuria, or painful urination, is the most common symptom in male patients, and some may also pass urine unintentionally or feel a sudden urge to use the bathroom, notes Medscape

Also, men get UTIs for different reasons than women, according to urologist Dr. Petar Bajic. "When men have an enlarged prostate, residual urine can stay in the bladder and collect bacteria," he told the Cleveland Clinic. He also notes that kidney stones are another common reason for UTIs in males, acting like tiny sponges for UTI-causing bacteria. As far as treatment goes, men usually need a longer course of antibiotics than women because their infection may be more severe, notes Stanford Medicine.