Urethritis

(Urethral Infection)

Definition

Urethritis is an inflammation, infection, or irritation of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder.
Female Urethra
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Causes

Urethritis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses, including:
  • Organisms that cause bladder or kidney infections
  • Organisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Other bacteria

Risk Factors

Urethritis is more common in women. Other factors that may increase your chance of urethritis include:
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Recent change in sexual partners
  • Unprotected sex (without use of a condom)
  • History of other STDs
  • Bacterial infection of other parts of the urinary tract (bladder, kidney, prostate)
  • Medications that lower resistance to bacterial infection
  • Having catheters or tubes placed in the bladder
  • Acidic foods
  • Spermicides

Symptoms

People with urethritis may not have symptoms, especially women. About half of men infected with chlamydia have no symptoms.Urethritis may cause:
  • Pain and/or burning while urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Increase in urinary:
    • Frequency
    • Urgency
  • Itching, swelling, and/or tenderness in the groin
  • Pain during sex
Urethritis symptoms specific to men may include:
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Blood in the semen
  • Pain during ejaculation
  • Swollen and/or tender testicles
If left untreated, urethritis can spread and cause infection in other parts of the urinary tract such as the bladder, ureters, or kidneys.

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