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Pain in the lower portions of the urinary tract is a very frequent problem. Patients from all age groups and both genders can suffer from this issue, though women are at a significantly higher risk.

The urethra and urinary bladder are very dynamic organs as their walls include smooth muscles and sphincters that are important for their function. Infection, inflammation, and trauma can produce dysfunction and pain in these organs. Here are some of the most common causes of lower urinary tract pain.

Urinary Infection

Urinary infections are by far the most common cause of lower urinary tract pain. These infections are much more common in women than in men because of the differences in the anatomy of male and female urethra. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites can cause urinary infections. The inflammation of the urethra is called urethritis. If the pathogens progress upwards to the urinary bladder they can cause its inflammation, which is called cystitis.

The main symptoms of urinary infection include sharp pain that increases during urination, blurred and/or bloody urine, urgent and frequent urination. Patients can also experience pain during sexual intercourse. Common urinary infections are usually caused by bacteria and can be successfully treated with antibiotics and uroantiseptics.

Recurrent urinary infections may suggest a structural problem in the urinary system that prevents a complete recovery, in which case more detailed examination is required.

Interstitial Cystitis

Chronic inflammation of the urinary bladder is called interstitial cystitis. Symptoms are the same as with urinary infection, but the active bacterial infection is hard to find in these cases. Therefore, patients with chronic symptoms of urinary infection with negative cultures often end up with the diagnosis of interstitial cystitis after all the other disorders are ruled out. Antihistamines and tricyclic antidepressants are used in the treatment, although with questionable success rates.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is more common in older people. The main symptoms include bloody urine, and symptoms of urinary obstruction such as frequent urination, urgency to urinate, and pain. To diagnose tumors of the urinary bladder, it is necessary to perform cystoscopy, biopsy, and/or MRI of the urinary bladder.

Can Doxycycline Help?

Many women suffer from chronic pelvic pain related to urination problems but with negative findings during medical examination. These patients are usually classified as having interstitial cystitis. A research group from Switzerland has recently conducted a study to investigate whether Doxycycline (an antibiotic drug) can be used to treat these patients. After the treatment with Doxycycline, 71% of patients had complete recovery or at least decrease in intensity of the symptoms. The authors suggested that this treatment should be considered before psychiatric treatment or making a diagnosis of interstitial cystitis.

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