Urethritis is swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the body.
Urethral syndrome; NGU; Non-gonococcal urethritis
Urethritis may be caused by bacteria or a virus. The same bacteria that cause
Other causes include:
Sensitivity to the chemicals used in spermicides or contraceptive jellies, creams, or foams
Risks for urethritis include:
Being a female in the reproductive years
Being male, ages 20 – 35
Having many sexual partners
High-risk sexual behavior (such as anal sex without a condom)
History of sexually transmitted diseases
Blood in the urine or semen
- Burning pain while urinating (
- Discharge from penis
- Fever (rare)
Frequent or urgent urination
- Itching, tenderness, or swelling in penis or groin area
- Pain with intercourse or ejaculation
- Abdominal pain
- Burning pain while urinating
- Fever and chills
- Frequent or urgent urination
- Pelvic pain
- Vaginal discharge
Exams and Tests
The doctor or nurse will examine you. In men, the exam will include the abdomen, bladder area, penis, and scrotum. The physical exam may show:
Discharge from the penis
Tender and enlarged lymph nodes in the groin area
Tender and swollen penis
Women will have abdominal and pelvic exams. The health care provider will check for:
Discharge from the urethra
Tenderness of the lower abdomen
Tenderness of the urethra
Your health care provider may look into your bladder using a tube with a camera on the end. This is called cystoscopy.
The following tests may be done:
Complete blood count (
C-reactive protein test
Pregnancy test (women only)
Urinalysisand urine cultures
- Tests for
gonorrhea, chlamydia, and other sexually transmitted illnesses (STI)
The goals of treatment are to:
Eliminate the cause of infection
Prevent the spread of infection
If you have an infection, you will be given antibiotics.
You may take pain relievers, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or phenazopyridine (Pyridium), which works on the urinary tract, along with antibiotics.
People with urethritis who are being treated should avoid sex or use condoms during sex. If an infection is the cause of the inflammation, your sexual partner must also be treated.
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.
With the correct diagnosis and treatment, urethritis usually clears up without any complications.
However, urethritis can lead to permanent damage to the urethra (scar tissue called
Men with urethritis are at risk for the following complications:
Bladder infection (
Infection in the testicles (
Prostate infection (prostatitis)
After a severe infection, the urethra may become scarred and then narrowed (
Women with urethritis are at risk for the following complications:
Bladder infection (cystitis)
Pelvic inflammatory disease(PID — an infection of the uterus lining, fallopian tubes, or ovaries)
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of urethritis.
Some causes of urethritis may be avoided with good personal hygiene and by practicing safer sexual behaviors such as monogamy (one sexual partner only) and using condoms.