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What is Urethritis?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated Feb 17, 2024
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Urethritis is a medical condition characterized by an inflammation of the urethra, which is a tube in the male body that passes urine and reproductive fluids from the inside to the outside of the body. It is also found in the female body, though it only serves to pass urine in this capacity.

A person may develop urethritis in a number of ways. Bacterial and viral infections are common causes, with those associated with sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections being the typical cause. Examples of sexually transmitted diseases that may lead to this condition include cytomeglovirus and herpes. In some cases, the condition may also be caused by injury or by a sensitivity to the chemicals found in certain spermicides or contraceptive creams, jellies, and foams.

Individuals with multiple sexual partners are more likely to develop this condition. Failure to wear a condom while having sex also puts an individual at a higher risk. While males between 20 and 35 years of age are most commonly affected, it can also affect women of reproductive age.

Men who develop urethritis typically experience an increased need to urinate, as well as a burning sensation during urination. They may also develop a yellow or clear discharge from the penis in moderate amounts or feel a general tenderness or itching in the groin area. In addition, the penis or groin area may swell, and the man may feel pain when he ejaculates or develop blood in his semen or urine. Fever, although rare, may also accompany urethritis.

Women with this condition may also experience burning while urinating, as well as an increased need to urinate. They may also develop fever and chills, feel abdominal pain, and experience vomiting and nausea. Women may also have vaginal discharge and pelvic pain. Women may also develop problems associated with pregnancy, such as difficulty getting pregnant, ectopic pregnancy, or complications such as miscarriage or premature birth.

Urethritis is treated with antibiotics, which, in some cases, must be administered intravenously. Pain relievers may also be necessary to treat the symptoms while the disease itself is being treated. During treatment, those with urethritis should refrain from intercourse or be sure to use a condom in order to prevent spreading the infection. Most patients are capable of being cured completely without complications. If left untreated, however, the condition can lead to permanent damage of the urethra.

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Discussion Comments
By ShellM89 — On Jun 10, 2011

@MalakAslan – You are right. It is so important to protect yourself. A few years back I had a bad vaginal infection that was being treated and my husband still contracted urethritis from me. I really felt bad for him. He had a lot of pain and discomfort.

Even if you are not dealing with any STDs or multiple partners you need to be careful. It is sometimes best to abstain for awhile when one partner has an infection, because often condoms can be irritating and prolong the recovery time.

By MalakAslan — On Jun 08, 2011

@anon132995 - Gonorrhea can be a cause of urethritis, but it isn't the only cause of an inflammation of the urethra. I know that anytime you have a sexual partner with an infection you can get it, too, if you aren't protecting yourself.

I know gonorrhea is treatable, so I would assume that chronic gonorrhea is treatable. You might search this site for more information. The complications of gonorrhea are serious so it is important that someone with this condition is under the care of their healthcare provider.

By anon132995 — On Dec 09, 2010

Is gonorrhea a cause of urethritis? Is chronic gonorrhea treatable?

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