True or False: Guys Can Get UTIs

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TRUE. Yes, men can get urinary tract infections, but they’re very unusual, especially when you think about how often women get them. UTIs occur when bacteria travel from outside the body and up the urethra, possibly reaching the bladder (and in serious cases, the kidneys).

In a healthy urinary tract, peeing flushes out any bacteria that’s trying to get in.

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The reason women get UTIs more often comes down to biology. For them, the distance between the bladder and the outside world is pretty short. For men, the distance is much longer; bacteria would have to travel the length of the penis to cause an infection.

And it’s unusual that a man would “catch” a UTI from his partner. (But sex can worsen the infection for her, so it’s best to wait until she’s feeling better.)

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Still, it’s important to take care of your urinary tract. Stay hydrated, and if you’re over age 50, have your prostate checked. For men who aren’t able to empty their bladder entirely, which is a symptom of an enlarged prostate, it’s possible for bacteria to get trapped in urine that isn’t fully expelled from the body, which may lead to an infection.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore the symptoms of a UTI, which can include pain while urinating, a constant need to go to the bathroom, or urine that’s cloudy or the wrong color. (It should come out pale yellow.) What’s more likely than a UTI is that you have a sexually transmitted disease. Don’t panic: Many of them are easily treatable with medication, but it’s better to go to the doctor sooner rather than later.

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Benjamin Choi, M.D., is a practicing urologist in New York City, as well as a clinical assistant professor in urology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

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