UTI or Urinary Tract Infection is less common in men and boys than in women and girls. However, few of them are prone to it. In adult males, UTI sometimes is a response to other health problems, which must be treated along with the infection to prevent recurrence. Studies show that in uncircumcised boys UTI is even less common than the rest of the male population. Let us study this correlation between UTI and circumcision in detail.
What is circumcision?
Approximately 60% of the boys in United States get circumcised at birth for various reasons. For some, it is cultural or religious. For others, it is hygiene. Whatever the reason, it is best to get it done before the baby comes home from the hospital or within 10 days of birth. Circumcision is the process of surgically removing the foreskin or the skin of the penis that covers the glans. Circumcision keeps the penis clean and although there is no conclusive evidence, some people believe that it heightens the pleasure of sexual intercourse in grown men. However, there is conclusive proof that it reduces the risk of UTI.
When circumcision is best avoided
Premature born children are generally not circumcised until they recover completely and are ready to go home. Circumcision is also not advised in boys born with penal deformities in order to save the foreskin for future use in other procedures that might be required. Boys born with certain health issues are also not circumcised to reduce the risk of other infections.
How circumcision affects UTI
UTI in uncircumcised boys is generally the effect of improper hygiene. In most Asian countries, circumcision has no cultural significance and the percentage population of circumcised boys is significantly low. In uncircumcised boys UTI it 10 times more common but it can be prevented with proper hygienic practices. It is particularly important to teach young boys to draw up the foreskin and clean the glans with lukewarm water regularly. No soap or cleansing product is necessary for this. In fact, lukewarm water keeps it clean and prevents most infections whereas cleansing products like soaps could be abrasive and do more harm than good.
UTI in uncircumcised boys and men
UTI in uncircumcised boys is generally the result of bad hygiene but it is a good idea to test for an underlying illness or monitor the water intake of the child. In uncircumcised men however, UTI is fairly common among heterosexual men. Using male contraceptives will help to prevent infection to a certain extent.
Tips to prevent UTI in uncircumcised boys
- Wash the penis with lukewarm water every time you change the baby’s diaper
- Like in girls, UTI in boys does not originate in the urinary tract; rather, it is external. Swipe the wet wipe front to back to prevent infection. It is best to wash the child’s bottom rather than using wipes if you are at home.
- Teach young boys, as young as 5 years old, how to retract the foreskin towards the abdomen and gently clean the glans with lukewarm water
- Learn to recognize if your child is at risk of UTI. Look for fever without a cause, signs of dehydration and observe the frequency at which he passes urine. If you find your child has unexplained high fever or is showing signs of dehydration, call your pediatrician immediately.
- Let the child take showers instead of immersing him in baths.
- Teach the child to urinate when he feels the urge and not to hold it.
Symptoms of UTI to watch out for
- In infants, symptoms include fever, pain in the abdomen, bloating, smelly urine, and loss of weight, lack of appetite, symptoms of dehydration like vomiting and diarrhea, and incessant crying due to irritation.
- In young children, symptoms include incontinence, frequent urge to urinate, chills and fever, smelly urine, nausea, and painful urination.
Symptoms of UTI other than painful urination and smelly urine resemble other medical conditions and hence it is better to consult your pediatrician.
In conclusion, in uncircumcised boys UTI may be more common compared to bladder infections in circumcised boys. However, in some circumcised infants, the hospital strain of E. coli could cause UTI but it is quite rare.
Treatment for UTI in all men and boys, whether circumcised or not, include antibiotics. A prescription is necessary to procure the medicines and a course must be followed. There are other natural UTI treatments like cranberry supplements etc that could also be taken, but these are more preventive in nature. It is best to consult a qualified physician at the first signs of UTI in circumcised or uncircumcised boys.