Can urinary infection cause erectile dysfunction?

An infection occurring in any part of the urinary tract is known as a urinary tract infection (UTI). The urinary tract involves the kidneys, ureter, bladder, and urethra, this whole system is used to drain urine from the body.

Urinary tract infections are more common in women due to the shorter size of the urethra which is a pipe that carries urine out of the body. Also, the urethra is closer to the anus in women than in men, which increases the risk of urinary tract infection in women.

Can urinary infection cause erectile dysfunction?
Can urinary infection cause erectile dysfunction?

Symptoms of urinary tract infection include:

  • Occurrence of Pain in specific areas such as the lower back, abdomen, groin, and pelvic muscles.
  • Painful urination
  • A feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder
  • dark-colored urine due to the presence of blood or cloudy urine
  • vomiting
  • nausea

A brief discussion on causes and treatment of Urinary tract infection:

Urinary tract infection occurs mainly in the urinary bladder or kidney. It is mostly caused by the bacteria called Escherichia coli. It can spread through other bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Sexual intercourse, kidney infection, and a history of urinary tract infection in the family; are the most common reasons for urinary tract infections.

Other possible causes include diabetes, constipation, circumcision, large prostate, and anatomical problem (abnormal structure of the urinary tract).


Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the urinary infection. Normally, urinary infections are treated with a short course of antibiotics such as Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, Fosfomycin, Nitrofurantoin, and Cephalexin. 1

However, there are times when infection can be complicated if the patient has developed resistance to antibiotics then intravenous antibiotics are given for a long duration till the infection gets treated.

What is erectile dysfunction?

First, we should know what erectile dysfunction (ED) is: It is the inability to maintain an erection firm enough to have penetrative sex.

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by physical or psychological reasons. Since sexual arousal involves the central nervous system (brain & spinal cord), nerves, muscles, and hormones, any significant harm to these factors can affect sexual arousal.

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Artherosclerosis
  • Excessive alcohol intake and smoking
  • Low testosterone
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Scar tissue inside the penis
  • Injury to the spinal cord or pelvic region
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity
  • Hypogonadism

Psychological causes include:

  • Performance anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Other mental health conditions

Can urinary infection cause erectile dysfunction?

Multiple research over the years has reported a strong relationship between urinary infection and erectile dysfunction.

Certain risk factors can lead to urinary tract infection such as inflammation of the urinary tract tissue, change in androgen hormones, and increased Rho kinase activity (an enzyme whose increase can affect heart function and causes related problems).

These factors can further cause decreased nerve function, and a change in smooth muscle tone (muscles located in internal structures such as blood vessels, digestive tract, liver, and uterus. damage to arteries that can cause decreased blood flow, and changes in the structure of the prostate.

Poor blood circulation, cardiovascular disease, and large prostate are known to affect sexual function. Therefore, a strong correlation can be concluded between lower urinary tract infection and poor sexual function.

Why do urologists fail to find a correlation between urinary tract infection and erectile dysfunction?

Despite an appreciable amount of literature that clearly indicates a link between urinary tract infection and erectile dysfunction, many urologists fail to find a correlation between urinary tract infection and erectile dysfunction.

There are a number of possible reasons why this happens;

  • Knowledge gap or incomplete knowledge about sexual health
  • Attempting to maintain patient’s privacy
  • Embarrassment
  • Avoiding conversation due to conservative beliefs
  • Following the conventional method of asking a few general questions and prescribing medicines without getting down to the root of the problem

The lack of co-diagnosis of erectile dysfunction and urinary tract infection is a serious concern. Since both are correlated, hence physicians should perform co-diagnosis of both in patients with sexual dysfunction. The co-diagnosis can prevent the symptoms of sexual dysfunction and urinary tract infection from worsening.

Benefits of Co-diagnosis:

There are several benefits of co-diagnosis of erectile dysfunction along with urinary tract infection such as:

  • The fact that ED and UTI are related is concluded through various research studies. Hence, co-diagnosis helps the physician find whether sexual dysfunction in the patient is caused by a urinary tract infection.
  • Physicians can provide appropriate treatment if the patient has urinary tract infection and sexual dysfunction. This helps the physician to provide medicine that will not have any negative effect on any of the
  • It can help to identify the simultaneous presence of the two conditions in the patient.

How can you prevent urinary tract infections?

  1. Drink plenty of water to remove the bacteria from the urinary tract. It is also safe for pregnant women to use water as a treatment against recurring urinary tract infections instead of anti-microbial medicines as consuming these medicines for a long period can cause resistance.

What does the WHO recommends?

The world health organization emphasized using lifestyle changes to control and prevent urinary tract infections such as drinking plenty of fluid, urinating after intercourse, urinating whenever there is an urge to urinate, wiping from front to back after bowel elimination, and wearing comfortable undergarments.

2. A daily intake of 100 mg of Vitamin C is recommended to prevent urinary infections and strengthen your urinary system. It further acidifies the urine and creates a bacteriostatic effect which decreases the chances of urinary infection.

3. Avoid caffeine intake as it may dehydrate the body which can just add up to the problem.

4. Studies suggest that cranberries can fight urinary infections. Cranberries are known to contain compounds that fight off the sticking ability of bacteria on the wall of the urinary tract due to which the bacteria passes off with the urine.

5. Consuming a diet high in fiber helps with comfortable bowel movements. Constipation can put pressure on the urinary tract due to which urine does not pass easily which raises the chances of urinary tract infection. 2

About the author

Deepanshu has a Master's in chemistry. He has worked extensively on research subjects regarding cancer and radio nuclear science and has continually reviewed nutrition science.

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