Learn About Urethritis

What is the definition of Urethritis?

Urethritis is inflammation (swelling and irritation) of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the body.

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What are the alternative names for Urethritis?

Urethral syndrome; NGU; Non-gonococcal urethritis

What are the causes of Urethritis?

Both bacteria and viruses may cause urethritis. Some of the bacteria that cause this condition include E coli, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. These bacteria also cause urinary tract infections and some sexually transmitted diseases. Viral causes are herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus.

Other causes include:

  • Injury
  • Sensitivity to the chemicals used in spermicides, contraceptive jellies, or foams

Sometimes the cause is unknown.

Risks for urethritis include:

  • Being a female
  • Being male, ages 20 to 35
  • Having many sexual partners
  • High-risk sexual behavior (such as men having penetrating anal sex without a condom)
  • History of sexually transmitted diseases
What are the symptoms of Urethritis?

In men:

  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Burning pain while urinating (dysuria)
  • Discharge from penis
  • Fever (rare)
  • Frequent or urgent urination
  • Itching, tenderness, or swelling in penis
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the groin area
  • Pain with intercourse or ejaculation

In women:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Burning pain while urinating
  • Fever and chills
  • Frequent or urgent urination
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Vaginal discharge
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What are the current treatments for Urethritis?

The goals of treatment are to:

  • Get rid of the cause of infection
  • Improve symptoms
  • Prevent the spread of infection

If you have a bacterial infection, you will be given antibiotics.

You may take both pain relievers for general body pain and products for localized urinary tract pain, plus antibiotics.

People with urethritis who are being treated should avoid sex, or use condoms during sex. Your sexual partner must also be treated if the condition is caused by an infection.

Urethritis caused by trauma or chemical irritants is treated by avoiding the source of injury or irritation.

Urethritis that does not clear up after antibiotic treatment and lasts for at least 6 weeks is called chronic urethritis. Different antibiotics may be used to treat this problem.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Urethritis?

With the correct diagnosis and treatment, urethritis most often clears up without further problems.

However, urethritis can lead to long-term damage to the urethra and scar tissue called urethral stricture. It can also cause damage to other urinary organs in both men and women. In women, the infection could lead to fertility problems if it spreads to the pelvis.

What are the possible complications of Urethritis?

Men with urethritis are at risk for the following:

  • Bladder infection (cystitis)
  • Epididymitis
  • Infection in the testicles (orchitis)
  • Prostate infection (prostatitis)

After a severe infection, the urethra may become scarred and then narrowed.

Women with urethritis are at risk for the following:

  • Bladder infection (cystitis)
  • Cervicitis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID -- an infection of the uterus lining, fallopian tubes, or ovaries)
When should I contact a medical professional for Urethritis?

Call your provider if you have symptoms of urethritis.

How do I prevent Urethritis?

Things you can do to help avoid urethritis include:

  • Keep the area around the opening of the urethra clean.
  • Follow safer sex practices. Have one sexual partner only (monogamy) and use condoms.
Female urinary tract
Male urinary tract
What are the latest Urethritis Clinical Trials?
Impact of a Rapid Test for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia on the Clinical Management of Urethritis and Cervicitis in a Sexual Health Clinic

Summary: This study is a pilot randomized controlled trial evaluating the use of either a) rapid 30-minute desktop assay or b) point-of-care gram stain (current standard of care) to guide the clinical management of patients with symptomatic urethritis or cervicitis evaluated in the Massachusetts General Hospital Sexual Health Clinic. Patients presenting with symptoms of urethritis or cervicitis and meeting...

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Effect of Laser Acupuncture for Treating Monosymptomatic Nocturnal Enuresis in Adolescent Females

Summary: The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of laser acupuncture on monosymptomatic nocturnal enuresis in adolescent females.

What are the Latest Advances for Urethritis?
Systematic review and Meta-analysis of efficacy and safety of Ningmitai Capsules in treatment of urinary tract infection.
A Case of Reactive Arthritis after BCG Intravesical Infusion Therapy Successfully Treated with Salazosulfapyridine.
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Gonococcal tysonitis, a rare local complication of gonorrhea: a clinical study of 15 cases.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: August 10, 2020
Published By: Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Babu TM, Urban MA, Augenbraun MH. Urethritis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 107.

Swygard H, Cohen MS. Approach to the patient with a sexually transmitted infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 269.