Urethritis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

It is the inflammation and swelling of the Urethra.

The Urethra is the narrow tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. It leads to difficulty or pain when urinating.

Bacteria or viruses usually cause urethritis. A chemical irritant can also trigger it. It is different from a urinary tract infection (UTI), which generally affects the entire urinary tract.

It can be transmitted through unprotected sex. If a woman has a vaginal infection, she can pass it to a partner.


Both men and women can develop urethritis, but the symptoms differ slightly. Some people have no symptoms.

For women, the symptoms include:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic and abdominal pain.
  • Pain with intercourse.
  • Frequent or urgent urination.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Stomach ache.
  • Itch.

Symptoms in men include:


  • Blood in urine or semen.
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Burning sensation when urinating.
  • Itching, sensitivity, or swelling in the penis.
  • Increase of the lymph nodes in the groin area.
  • Fever is possible in men, but it is rare.

Causes and risk factors

Most cases of urethritis occur when bacteria enter the Urethra. Bacterial urethritis can be gonococcal urethritis, caused by Neisseria Gonorrhoeae, or non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU), caused by Chlamydia Trachomatis or Mycoplasma Genitalium (M. genitalium).

Gonorrhea and chlamydia often occur together. Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that affect both men and women.

The most common viral causes are the herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus.

Other causes are:

Reiter’s syndrome.

  • Adenovirus.
  • Ureaplasma urealyticum.
  • Trichomona vaginalis.
  • Escherichia coli Uropatogénica (E. coli).

According to the National Institutes of Health, urethritis can also result from injury or sensitivity to chemicals used in contraceptive jellies, soaps, creams or foams, and spermicides.

Disinfectants, antiseptics, or other products, such as tea tree oil, can cause inflammation. Damage caused by friction during sexual contact or masturbation can also lead to inflammation in men.

People who are most likely to experience urethritis include those who:

  • They have a history of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • High-risk sexual behavior.

Oral sex can be a risk factor for non-gonococcal urethritis, according to a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Urethritis is not always sexually transmitted, but a person with multiple sexual partners has an increased risk of exposure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that any patient with confirmed or suspected urethritis should also undergo gonorrhea and chlamydia tests.

This will allow people to inform their partner, who may also need to be examined and treated. It can also encourage patients to adhere to the treatment.


A doctor will usually examine the abdomen, scrotum, penis, and bladder for any swelling in a man.

The doctor can separate the urinary meatus to see if there is any abnormality. The urinary meatus is the hole from which the urine leaves the body.

A swab is inserted into the Urethra and then examined under a microscope.

Women usually undergo abdominal and pelvic exams to check the Urethra and lower abdomen sensitivity. The doctor will also check for urethral discharge.

Cystoscopy can be used in which a tube with a camera at the end is inserted into the bladder. Diagnostic tests that may be recommended include:

  • Complete blood count.
  • C-reactive protein test.
  • Tests to detect STIs, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
  • Urine test
  • Women can undergo a pelvic ultrasound test.

Treatment, prevention, and complications

The drugs will aim to treat the cause of urethritis and prevent the spread of the infection.

The treatment depends on the underlying cause. If the patient has a bacterial infection, an antibiotic, such as Doxycycline, Erythromycin, or Metronidazole, will be prescribed.

It has been reported that azithromycin and doxycycline effectively treat urethritis when related to chlamydia. Still, other types, such as M. genitalium, seem to respond better to azithromycin or moxifloxacin.

There is also concern that some strains of M. genitalium are resistant to some antibiotics, making treatment challenging.

A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as naproxen, can be used to relieve pain. Pyridium, also known as phenazopyridine, can be used to treat pain and reduce the desire to urinate and the frequency of urination.

The health centers stimulate the treatment that can be administered in a single dose to promote adherence. They also recommend administering the medication at the clinic and observing the symptoms after the first dose.

Are there natural remedies?

According to the Family Planning Association (APF) in the United Kingdom, there is no evidence that natural or alternative remedies can cure urethritis.

The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that natural remedies, used in conjunction with conventional medical treatment, can help the body fight infection.

Cranberries contain a substance that can prevent bacteria from sticking to the Urethra. Drinking between 8 ounces and 16 ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice each day can help women with frequent urinary tract infections to prevent a recurrence.

Cranberry supplements are not recommended if a person is pregnant, breastfeeding, or has kidney stones. Cranberry juice and accessories should not be taken by people who use drugs such as Warfarin or Coumadin.

It is also essential to stay hydrated by avoiding caffeine and alcohol and drinking six to eight glasses of filtered water each day. It is necessary to talk to a doctor before using any natural or alternative resource.

Prevention of Urethritis

Some practical ways to prevent urethritis include:

  • Abstain from unprotected and risky sexual activities, such as having multiple sexual partners.
  • Avoid chemicals that can irritate the Urethra, such as detergents or spermicides.
  • Good personal hygiene