Urethritis

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

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Urethritis may be caused by bacteria or a virus. The same bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (E. coli) and some sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia, gonorrhea) can lead to urethritis. Viral causes of urethritis include herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus. Other causes include injury and sensitivity to the chemicals used in spermicides or contraceptive jellies, creams, or foams

Symptoms

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 or groin area
  • Pain with intercourse or ejaculation

In women:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Burning pain while urinating
  • Fever and chills
  • Frequent or urgent urination
  • Pelvic pain
  • Vaginal discharge

Treatment

The goals of therapy are to:

  • Eliminate the cause of infection
  • Improve symptoms
  • Prevent the spread of infection

If you have an infection, you will be given antibiotics. You may take pain relievers (including pyridium, which works on the urinary tract) along with antibiotics. 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.