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Pain in the urethra can occur by itself, or it can be associated with other symptoms: it can be mild or severe, acute or chronic and can be caused by an infection, trauma, or something blocking the urinary tract. Or something else?

 

Pain In The Urethra

Treatment of a possible infection may decrease the risk of further urethra pain. If you feel it as the urine passes trough your urethra (the canal that carries urine from the bladder), your urethra must be inflamed. If your urethra is inflamed, the condition is called urethritis. [1]

Every sexually active man or a woman carries potential risks for urethritis. You should know that, if you changed some of your habits, you could significantly decrease your risk factors for urethritis. If you already feel pain in the urethra, the most important thing for you is to get an early diagnosis. You should understand the cause of your infection, and follow your treatment program to prevent the disease from returning. [2

Urethra Pain Causes And Risk Factors 

The most common cause of pain in the urethra is a urinary infection, but a urinary infection isn’t the only cause of pain in the urethra. Other possible pain causes include [3,4,5]:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Trauma to the urinary tract;
  • Contact dermatitis or vulvitis
  • Inflammation of any part of the urinary tract
  • Prostatitis
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Vaginal infection
  • Radiation cystitis
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Chemical irritation, such as from soaps 
  • Urinary retention
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Certain medications
  • Tumors or cancer of any part of the urinary tract

After the common cold, urinary tract infections are the most common disease to affect women and men. Bacteria usually cause them. Bacteria are microscopic agents that can invade just about any part of your urinary tract. Bacteria often come from the rectum, where they occur naturally, and spread to the vagina or penis and the urethra. They could travel into your system from outside the body, move up your urinary tract, multiply, and infect a particular organ, even the kidneys. [6]

Urinary tract infections occur more in women than men simply because of their anatomy. About half of all women will develop urinary tract infections during their lifetimes, and many women will experience more than one. Some women get these infections over and over again. The urethra, which carries urine from the bladder outside the body, is shorter in women. Bacteria travel quickly from outside the body into the urinary tract in women. [7]

Sexual intercourse and bad personal hygiene can help bacteria travel into the urethra. Some women have a urinary tract with a small resistance to bacteria. So, they are more prone to urinary infections. There are also other causes of a urinary infection. Those causes include:

  • Overstretching of the bladder
  • A lack of cleanliness when doing a catheterization
  • Urine left in the bladder (incomplete voiding) [3,4,5]
  • Menopause can also cause changes in vaginal bacteria that increase the risk of a urinary tract infection.[8]

If you think that changes due to the menopause caused your urinary tract infection, you should talk to your doctor about estrogen replacement therapy. [8]

Chemical irritants such as perfumed feminine hygiene products, soap, sanitary napkins, spermicidal foams and jellies, and bubble baths can cause urethritis. Spermicides or contraceptive jellies, creams, or foams are also possible causes of urethritis. [9]

A Sexually Transmitted Disease May Cause Inflammation Of The Urethra

Urethritis is inflammation of the urethra and could be due to bacteria or a virus. Commonly, it is caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli and the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia and gonorrhea. Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria cause gonococcal urethritis. Gonorrhea infections are passed from person to person during sexual intercourse. The most common cause of Nongonococcal urethritis are Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria, which cause the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia. Other causes of nongonococcal urethritis include Mycoplasma genitalium, Ureaplasma urealyticum, and Trichomonas vaginalis[10]

Viral causes, such as the Herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus can also cause urethritis. 

Injury during sexual intercourse can also cause urethritis. You should know that you can prevent sexually transmitted diseases that cause urethritis by using a condom.

Treatment depends on the cause of the urethritis [10]:

  • Antibiotics are a treatment for a bacterial infection.
  • Antifungal drugs are used to treat fungal infections.
  • Antiviral drugs are a treatment for a viral infection.

During your medical evaluation, your doctor will ask about your medical history. You should describe all of your symptoms, any history of diseases, what medication you are taking, if any, and whether you could be pregnant. 

Men and women who are sexually active and between the ages of 20 and 35 have the highest risk of developing urethritis.

If you have multiple sexual partners, you should know that your risk for  STDs is higher than in a monogamous relationship.  High-risk sexual behavior (such anal sex without a condom) presents the greatest danger for urethritis. Young women in their reproductive years are also at risk. A prior history of sexually transmitted diseases raises one's risk of urethritis. 

The symptoms of urethritis include: 

  • Pain or burning during urination 
  • An urge to urinate more frequently 
  • Redness around the opening of the urethra. [1] 

You should see a doctor if you start urinating more frequently, or if urination causes pain or a burning discomfort, especially if fever occurs.

You can decrease your risk of urethritis by practicing safer sexual behaviors such as monogamy and most of all using condoms.

How Can You Decrease Your Risk Of Urethritis? 

  • If you often have a urinary tract infection and pain in the urethra, you should make some lifestyle changes.
  • You should drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Drinking lots of fluids helps the bladder flush itself.
  • If sexual intercourse causes your urinary tract infection, going to the bathroom right after intercourse may lessen your risk. Women especially should always try to urinate after sex.
  • The most important thing you can do to prevent a urinary tract infection is to practice good hygiene. If you are a woman, you should avoid wiping fecal matter into the urethral area. Wiping from front to back helps prevent germs and bacteria from entering the urethral opening. You should shower or bathe daily, but you should never douche. Daily showering helps avoid the spread of germs. To prevent inflammation of the urethra (urethritis), you should avoid perfumed feminine hygiene products, spermicidal jellies and foams, and bubble baths. [11]
  • You could very easy insert bacteria along with a catheter into your urethra and bladder. If you are catheterizing yourself, it is essential that the process should be very clean. Wash your hands frequently as you carry out the catheterization process. Wash the catheter with soapy water after each use and allow it to dry completely before using it again. [12]
  • You should avoid irritating foods, especially spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
You should see your doctor if you think you might have a urinary tract infection, or if you have pain in the urethra for more than one day.  Such infections can lead to serious complications, bladder and kidney damage, kidney stones, and urine retention.