What is urethritis?
Urethritis is a condition in which the urethra is infected by bacteria. This can happen when the number of bacteria increases or the body’s immune system weakens.
Two types of urethritis are gonococcal urethritis (inflammation caused by gonorrheal infection) and non-gonococcal urethritis (inflammation caused by gonorrheal infection).
How common is urethritis?
This health condition is extremely common. Especially in areas where STIs are common. Urethritis affects people of all ages and may occur in any sexually active person, but highest among people aged 20-24 years. Both males and females can develop the condition. However, females have a greater chance of developing the condition than males as the length of the urethra in women is shorter than in men.
It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of urethritis?
Urethritis typically causes pain while urinating and an increased urge to urinate. Other symptoms include:
- Urethral discharges in both male and female;
- Itching or burning near the urethral opening;
- Presence of blood in the semen or urine.
People who have urethritis may also not have any noticeable symptoms, especially in women. For this reason, it’s important to undergo testing if you may have been infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor.
Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation to prevent complications, such as:
- Cystitis, prostatitis, epididymitis-orchitis (painful swollen testis), periurethral abscess, proctitis, infertility and reactive arthritis.
- Disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) presented with systemic symptoms (e.g, fever, chills, sweats, nausea.)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID);
- Infertility and ectopic pregnancy secondary to post inflammation scar formation in the fallopian tubes;
- Proctitis (rectal discharge, pain and tenesmus), cystitis.
What causes urethritis?
Several organisms can cause uerthritis. Depending on the type of urethritis, causes can be:
- Gonococcal urethritis (GU) is caused by a bacteria called neisseria gonorrhoereae.
- Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU) can be caused by are:
- Chlamydia trachomatis;
- Ureaplasma urealyticum;
- Mycoplasma species (Mycoplasma hominis, M.genitalium);
- Trichomonas vaginalis;
- Fungi (yeasts);
- Herpes simplex virus;
- Adeno virus.
What increases my risk for urethritis?
Because urethritis can be a result of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), there are numerous risk factors for this condition related to STIs, such as:
- Number of sexual partners: Individuals with multiple partners are most likely to have contracted an STI. Long term monogamous (one sexual partner only) couples are extremely unlikely to contract an STI.
- Sexual contact outside of the marriage or mate with a history of infection
- Sexual preference: Homosexual men have the highest rate of STIs.
- Concurrent STIs may also occur. A high level of suspicion of other STIs, such as syphilis and HIV infection, should be maintained.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is urethritis diagnosed?
Traditionally, urethritis is diagnosed based on physical examination and examination of the urethra discharge:
- Detecting the typical signs of infection.
- Inspecting the underwear for secretions.
- Examine the lumen of the distal urethral meatus for, obvious urethral discharge, erythema or stricture.
- Test for bacteria by using urethral swab.
- Examine the patients for skin lesions that may indicate other STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- Examine the testes for evidence of swelling or inflammation suggesting orchitis.
- Palpate the spermatic cord, looking for swelling tenderness, of warmth suggestive of epididymitis.
How is urethritis treated?
Treatment for urethritis typically includes a course of either antibiotic or antiviral medication. Some common treatments for urethritis include:
- Azithromycin, an antibiotic, typically taken as a one-time dose.
- Doxycycline, an oral antibiotic that is typically taken twice a day for seven days.
- Erythromycin, an antibiotic that can be administered orally, four times a day for seven days.
- Ofloxacin, an oral antibiotic that is typically taken twice a day for seven days.
- Levofloxacin an oral antibiotic that is typically taken once a day for seven days.
Even if you see signs of improvement after a few days of treatment, you should still finish out your prescription as recommended by your doctor, or the infection could come become worse.
Potential drug interactions with the medications used to treat urethritis include:
- Blood-thinning medications;
- Heart medications;
- Seizure medications.
If an STI caused the infection, it’s vital that all sexual partners undergo testing and treatment if necessary. This prevents the spread of the STI and reinfection.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage urethritis?
With the correct diagnosed and the treatment, urethritis usually clears up without any complications. Other prognosis and prevention of urethritis are following:
- Avoid having intercourse with multiple partners.
- Use condoms every time you have sex.
- Get tested regularly.
- Protect others. If you find out you have an STI, inform others who are also at risk of an infection.
- The sexual partner must also be treated if acquisition presents.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Michel Arthur Pontari, MD. Campbell-Walsh Urology. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Download version. Page 371. Accessed December 4, 2016.
Dr. Ammar Al –Faisal. Presentation of Urethritis and Gennital Discharge. Download version. Accessed December 4, 2016.
McCormack W, Rein M. Urethritis. In: Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett (Eds), 2006. Download version. Accessed December 4, 2016.
Urethritis. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/urethritis-symptoms-causes-treatments. Accessed December 4, 2016.
Urethritis. http://www.healthline.com/health/urethritis. Accessed December 4, 2016.
Review Date: December 5, 2016 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019