What Causes Urethritis?

Some urethritis patients may need to be fitted with a catheter to drain urine.
Urethritis causes inflammation in the urethra.
Article Details
  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Urethritis is a medical condition characterized by the inflammation of the urethra, usually resulting in painful urination. There are several causes of urethritis. One of the most common causes is infection, however, other medical conditions can cause this as well. Certain chemicals or physical trauma could also lead to urethritis.

Many times, this condition is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Certain sexually transmitted diseases have been known to cause urethritis, especially in men. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common STDs associated with this condition. Caused by the herpes simplex virus, genital herpes has also been known to lead to an inflamed urethra.

Besides STDs, a few other medical conditions could possibly cause urethritis. An bacterial infection of the prostate, known as bacterial prostatitis, for example, can also cause this condition. The E.coli bacteria, which also causes urinary tract infections, may also cause the urethra to become inflamed.

Some medical conditions not caused by a bacteria or virus also can lead to this condition. A urethra stricture is a good example of this. This refers to the narrowing of the urethra. In severe cases, the urethra can close, making urination extremely difficult. Many times, a patient may need to have a urinary catheter inserted to help empty his bladder.

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While a catheter can be a treatment for urethra problems, catheter insertion also can cause urethritis. This occurs because the delicate tissues of the urethra become irritated from the catheter insertion, which can lead to inflammation. Other types of trauma or physical irritation can also cause this type of inflammation, including rough sexual intercourse or even the entrance of the urethra rubbing on the inside of a person's pants.

Chemical irritants may also be to blame in some urethritis cases. Since some people may be allergic or sensitive to certain types of dyes or fragrances, products, like soap or lotion, that contain these irritants can cause inflammation in the urethra. Certain contraceptives that contain spermicide may also result in this medical condition. Usually, in these types of cases, once a patient stops using a particular irritant, the inflammation will go away.

Treatment for urethritis usually begins with treating any underlying causes. In the case of a bacteria or viral infection, antibiotic or antiviral medication is typically necessary. Patients with this condition are also strongly advised to abstain from sexual activity for at least a few days after treatment has begun.

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Discuss this Article

mkpsx
Post 8

I have a sharp pain when I pee due to an inflammation in my urethra. I was tested for UTI and STD and both came back negative. What could be other reasons because it still hurts when I pee and sometimes I even get a split urine stream?

discographer
Post 5

@simrin-- I know what you mean about eliminating factors and lots of tests! I have non-specific urethritis which means that doctors have not been able to figure out the cause of my urethritis. All of my STD tests came back negative and there is also no infection, but the symptoms remain.

A friend of mine said that he had the same problem. He had an allergic reaction to a cream that his partner was using and that probably caused his urethritis. I also read on some forums that spermicide creams and contraceptive creams can cause urethritis for some people.

I'm starting to think that the same has happened to me. I never asked my ex if she was using any creams, so it's highly probable.

burcinc
Post 4

I was treated for urinary tract infection recently, along with urethritis. The infection is all gone now, but I'm still having pain while urinating. I started to think that the infection wasn't all cleared up but my doctor said that urethritis generally continues for sometime after treatment.

I guess the infection really irritated my urethra and the inflammation hasn't gone away altogether. I am taking an anti-inflammatory prescription which helps a little bit. I guess I just have to wait for it to heal and for the irritation and inflammation to go away on its own.

SteamLouis
Post 3

There seem to be so many different causes of urethritis.

Mine was caused from cystitis which is inflammation of the bladder. Apparently if the bladder has a bacterial infection, it can also get into the urethra and cause urethritis as well.

I've had cystitis several times and although my doctor can't confirm the cause, I think it has to do with heavy colds I experience. I pay a lot of attention to hygiene in the toilet, so I don't think that's the cause of the infection. I know that infection requires bacteria from somewhere, but I always seem to develop cystitis after I go through one of my winter colds, which are always really long and annoying. If I don't take antibiotics, the cystitis seems to follow.

My last cystitis also developed into urethritis and I had to take strong antibiotics to treat it. The worst part about these infections is that in order to figure out the cause, you have to get tested for various things. Doctors can only figure out why it's happening by eliminating factors that are not there.

Monika
Post 2

@ceilingcat - You're right, urethritis is terrible. I actually struggled with urethritis awhile back and it was so frustrating!

I developed urethritis so I went to the doctor thinking I had a urinary tract infection. That wasn't it, so they did a few more tests and there wasn't anything else wrong with me either. Eventually, we figured out that I was sensitive to something in my laundry detergent. I had just recently switched brands!

Once I switched back to my usual brand, everything was fine. I was so relieved!

ceilingcat
Post 1

I think urethritis is probably the worst part of having a urinary tract infection. It's just so painful and uncomfortable!

However, it's been awhile since I've had a UTI and I hear there are now pills available to treat this symptom! One of my friends tried them, and she said they worked wonders. However, they also turn your urine orange and can stain your underwear. My friend didn't care though-she was just relieved not to be in pain anymore.

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