Urinary tract infections can have a number of causes or contributing factors. One of the things that many people might be concerned about is whether certain medications or drugs could cause UTIs.
Steroids of different types might be taken for different purposes and in various ways. If you are using any medication or drug containing steroids, you might wonder whether it could possibly increase your risk of getting a UTI. But do steroids cause UTIs?In this article, we’ll explore the potential connection between steroids and UTIs.
Table of Contents
- What Is a UTI?
- Can Steroids Cause UTIs?
- Can Corticosteroids Cause UTIs?
- Can Anabolic Steroids Cause UTIs?
- Can Steroids Cause Other Bladder Problems?
- Can Steroids Cause Other Infections?
- How to Treat a UTI?
- When to See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
What Is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract. This most often means a bacterial infection in the urethra or bladder, but an infection can also move into the ureters (which connect the bladder to the kidneys) or the kidneys.
UTIs are very common, especially for women, and are usually easily treatable. However, some people do experience recurrent UTIs. Various things can make UTIs more likely, including your sex, age, hygiene habits, and even the clothes you wear.
Can Steroids Cause UTIs?
Some medications and drugs can increase your risk of getting a UTI, but are steroids included in this? Many medications can have some side effects, and steroids are no different. One of the side effects of steroids may be urinating more frequently or needing to go more urgently. This can lead to an infection in the bladder or kidneys. Some steroid products may also cause a decrease in the amount of urine, which can also make an infection more likely.
The exact side effects of steroids will depend on what type of steroids are being used. Corticosteroids are used to treat a range of problems, working as an anti-inflammatory. Anabolic steroids may be prescribed for some medical conditions, such as some types of anemia, but they are also abused by some people as a way to build muscle. These different types of steroids can have different side effects.
Can Corticosteroids Cause UTIs?
Corticosteroids may be prescribed to help treat a range of health conditions, including asthma, eczema, or various types of inflammation. They are often prescribed only for short-term use, but some people might use them for longer periods of time.
Corticosteroids can possibly increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection. For example, prednisone is a commonly prescribed corticosteroid medication with side effects that include urinary tract infections.
Some studies have suggested that the higher the dose of the steroids, the greater the risk of infection. That includes all types of infection too, not just UTIs.
Can Anabolic Steroids Cause UTIs?
Anabolic steroids are most frequently thought of as a drug abused by bodybuilders. However, they do also have legitimate medical uses. Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances that are similar to the male sex hormone testosterone.
They can be prescribed to men with certain types of anemia who don’t produce enough testosterone on their own, for example.
Anabolic steroids are different from corticosteroids and less likely to be prescribed. Whether they are prescribed or not, anabolic steroids can have certain side effects. However, when they are prescribed, it is much easier for a doctor to monitor any potential side effects to ensure safe use.
One of the side effects of anabolic steroids is an increased risk of UTIs. Urinary tract infections and other bladder problems can be used as some of the criteria to spot the misuse of anabolic steroids.
Can Steroids Cause Other Bladder Problems?
The use of steroids could cause other bladder problems too. In addition to UTIs, anabolic steroids might cause bladder irritation or more frequent urination.
In men, using steroids can enlarge the prostate and decrease the flow of urine, which could increase the risk of urinary tract infections. When someone is urinating less, bacteria can build up because the urinary tract isn’t getting flushed out with fluids as often.
Men whose prostates are enlarged due to anabolic steroid use can also find that they need to urinate more frequently during the night.
Can Steroids Cause Other Infections?
The side effects of steroids depend on the type of steroids, as well as how you are taking them. If you are taking oral corticosteroids, especially long-term, you might have a higher risk of developing any kind of infection, not just UTIs.
There are ways to reduce and manage the side effects of corticosteroids by working with your doctor to use them in the best possible way. For example, you might be able to switch from an oral corticosteroid to a non-oral form, which could help to lessen some of the side effects.
The use of anabolic steroids could also lead to infection. Those abusing steroids might not use sterile needles to inject them, which increases the risk of various infections, including HIV, hepatitis C, and more. Anabolic steroids may also suppress the immune system, which makes any infection more likely.
How to Treat a UTI?
The best treatment for a urinary tract infection is usually antibiotics. They get to the root of the problem and target the bacteria causing the infection. Most of the time, doctors will prescribe antibiotics for the infection and might recommend some steps to help relieve the symptoms of a UTI. For example, they might recommend taking something to relieve pain.
When to See a Doctor?
If you have any symptoms of a UTI, you should see a doctor. The symptoms can include painful urination, needing to urinate more often, cramping in your abdomen, and cloudy urine or urine with a bad odor. These symptoms could indicate other problems too, so it’s always best to get a diagnosis.
How Can DrHouse Help You?
If you’re concerned about the side effects of steroids or have a UTI, the DrHouse app can help. With our app, you can make on-demand appointments with an online doctor.
We can help to diagnose your urinary tract infection and prescribe antibiotics if needed. We can also give you advice on how to manage the symptoms of a UTI and how to reduce your risk of getting them in the future.
If you’re concerned about the side effects of steroids, we can help you to understand the risks and make sure that you’re using them safely. We can also provide advice on how to manage any side effects that you might experience.
- Both corticosteroids and anabolic steroids could increase your risk of developing a UTI
- Other bladder problems could also become an issue with some steroid use
- Using steroids can increase your risk for any type of infection
- Speak to your doctor about managing the side effects of steroids or addressing steroid misuse
- Antibiotics are the best treatment for UTIs in most cases
- See a doctor if you think you have a UTI for the correct diagnosis and treatment
- Corticosteroids, NHS Inform. Available from: https://www.nhsinform.scot/tests-and-treatments/medicines-and-medical-aids/types-of-medicine/corticosteroids
- Prednisone, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Available from: https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/emr/emr-ibd-education-tool/prednisone
- Overuse of Steroid Medications Can Increase Risk of Certain Infections, Healthline. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/overuse-of-steroid-medications-can-increase-risk-of-certain-infections
- Anabolic Steroid Abuse, Physiopedia. Available from: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Anabolic_Steroid_Abuse
- Wemyss-Holden SA, Hamdy FC, Hastie KJ. Steroid abuse in athletes, prostatic enlargement and bladder outflow obstruction–is there a relationship? Br J Urol. 1994 Oct;74(4):476-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410x.1994.tb00426.x. PMID: 7529633.
- Prednisone and other corticosteroids, Mayo Clinic. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/steroids/art-20045692
- NIDA. 2021, April 12. What are the side effects of anabolic steroid misuse?. Available from: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/what-are-side-effects-anabolic-steroid-misuse