What Does a UTI Feel Like?

When something doesn’t feel right, we often consider what symptoms we feel to help find out what is wrong. In regards to UTIs, there are some very distinct symptoms that they produce, helping you determine if you have one.

The symptoms of UTIs are generally the same between men and women, although some may be more prevalent and pressing in one gender versus the other. However, both genders can take actionable steps to prevent UTIs, preserving their urinary health.

Table of Contents

What Is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) results when a pathogen infects the urinary tract, which consists of the urethra, ureters, bladder, and kidneys. A UTI may infect any part of the urinary tract, but it most often involves an infection of the bladder. In severe cases, though, it may lead to a kidney infection.

What Causes a UTI?

While any type of pathogen, including viruses, bacteria, or fungi, may cause a UTI, the most common cause is bacteria. In particular, the type of bacteria that typically causes a UTI is E. coli because it is found around or in the anus and can easily spread to the urethra.

Who Is at Risk of a UTI?

The greatest risk factor for a UTI is gender, with women much more likely than men to contract a UTI. This is because of the anatomy of the female body, which places the urethra much closer to the anus. Since E. coli, the bacteria that most often cause UTIs, is found around the anus, this short distance makes it easier for the bacteria to enter the urethra and the urinary tract.

Another aspect of the female anatomy that increases the risk of UTIs is the short distance from the urethra to the bladder, which makes it easier for the bacteria to reach and infect the bladder.

What Does a UTI Feel Like?

While not everyone experiences symptoms of a UTI, this type of infection does have some very characteristic symptoms that generally revolve around urination or the need to urinate, and being aware of the symptoms of a UTI helps you know that it is a UTI causing your symptoms instead of an STD or other genital infection.

Detailed below is how it feels to have a UTI and the differences between men and women who have this infection.

What Does the Start of a UTI Feel Like?

When a UTI first starts, it is common not to feel any symptoms. Some people may never develop symptoms, whereas others may begin experiencing a burning sensation whenever urinating. In some cases, it may become painful to pee.

With a UTI, it is common to feel as though you need to pee very urgently, with a sudden pressure in the bladder that has you running to the bathroom.

Some people may also feel as though they cannot fully empty their bladder, always leaving them with a slight amount of pressure in their groin/abdominal area.

In severe cases of UTIs, there may be pain in the back or lower abdomen, which may signify that the infection has spread to the kidneys. Other signs that this has occurred include shaking and chills, along with a high fever and nausea or vomiting.

As with all infections, it is common to feel extreme fatigue when you have a UTI because the body is working hard to fight the infection, leaving you tired.

What Does a UTI Feel Like for a Man?

While women are more likely to have a UTI, that does not mean men cannot experience it.

When a man has a UTI, their most common symptom is a frequent urge to urinate, and in many cases, this urge can feel urgent. Additionally, ignoring the urge does not make it go away, and after going to the bathroom, there might not be any relief.

Some men may also experience a burning or painful sensation during or just after urinating.

In some cases, a UTI may cause men to have trouble with urinating, and this is especially prominent in men who have a problem with their prostate.

What Does a UTI Feel Like for a Woman?

When women have a UTI, their most common symptom is burning or pain when urinating. While experiencing this once is not necessarily a sign of a UTI, a UTI is often to blame if it becomes persistent.

Like men, women are also likely to experience a strong urge to pee frequently, often causing them to think only about how badly they need to go to the bathroom, even if they just went.

Older women are more likely to experience pressure, cramping, or abdominal pain when they have a UTI; in some cases, this might be the most pronounced symptom.

How to Treat a UTI?

Most UTIs infecting the bladder are treated with a short course of antibiotics, which often take 5-7 days. Many people notice a relief in symptoms within just a few days, but it is crucial to take the entire course of antibiotics to ensure the whole infection is treated.

For those with more severe UTIs, such as kidney infections, antibiotics are often prescribed for a longer amount of time, and they might have to be injected intravenously in a hospital setting to monitor your health.

How to Prevent a UTI?

There are actions that men and women can take to prevent a UTI.

The most important is to practice safe sex. Using a condom can help prevent the spread of bacteria, which is especially important for men who engage in anal sex.

Staying hydrated is also important to help flush out the urinary tract more regularly, preventing bacteria from infecting it. When drinking more water, it is also essential to go to the bathroom whenever you feel the urge since holding in your pee allows bacteria to collect and grow.

One prevention technique specific to men is treating prostate problems, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is an enlarged prostate that can impact urine flow. By treating this condition, men can reduce their risk of UTIs.

When to See a Doctor?

Since UTIs can become severe infections if left untreated, it is recommended to visit a doctor as soon as you suspect a UTI and seek immediate medical treatment if you have any symptoms of a kidney infection.

With DrHouse, you can meet with an online doctor in just 15 minutes to discuss your symptoms and receive an antibiotic prescription for your UTI.

Key Takeaways

UTIs are unpleasant infections that primarily affect the urinary tract. Most people with a UTI experience pain or burning when urinating and frequent and intense urges to urinate. The former is often the first sign of infection in women, while the latter is the most common symptom men experience. Older women, though, often experience cramping or pain in the abdomen that may be the most pronounced symptom.

Both men and women can complete actions to prevent UTIs, including practicing safe sex and drinking plenty of water. For those with a UTI, an antibiotic is the only way to cure the infection and prevent it from becoming more serious, and an online doctor is a convenient way to obtain this prescription.


Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.



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