Uretritis is a swelling of the urethra. The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. Pain when urinating is the main symptom of urethritis.
Urethritis is usually caused by infection by bacteria. The condition of urethritis is usually cured with antibiotics. Uretritis is not the same as urinary tract infection (UTI). Uretritis is inflammation of the urethra, while UTI is a urinary tract infection.
Both of these diseases may have the same symptoms, but require different treatment methods depending on the cause of urethritis.
Urethritis can affect people of all ages. Both men and women can develop these conditions. However, women have a greater chance of developing conditions than men.
This is due to a portion of the male urethra which is the length of the penis, much longer than a woman’s. A woman’s urethra is usually one and a half inches long, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urethra.
Causes of urethritis
Most episodes of urethritis are caused by infection by bacteria that enter the urethra from the skin around the urethral opening. Bacteria that commonly cause urethritis include:
- E. Coli and other bacteria present in feces.
- Gonococcus , which is sexually transmitted and causes gonorrhea.
- Chlamydia trachomatis , which is sexually transmitted and causes chlamydia.
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2) can also cause urethritis.
- Trichomonas is another cause of urethritis, a single-celled organism that is sexually transmitted.
Sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia are usually confined to the urethra, and can also extend to the female reproductive organs, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
In men, gonorrhea and chlamydia sometimes cause epididymitis, epididymal infection, tubes on the outside of the testes. Both PID and epididymitis can cause infertility.
There are various types of urethritis classified according to the causes of inflammation. They are gonococcal urethritis and nongonococcal urethritis.
Gonococcal urethritis is caused by the same bacteria that causes gonorrhea sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This type accounts for 20 percent of cases of urethritis.
While nongonococcal urethritis is urethritis caused by other infections that are not gonorrhea. Chlamydia is a common cause of nongonococcal urethritis, but can also be caused by other sexually transmitted infections.
These causes can include injury, such as from a catheter or other types of genital trauma. While many patients have one type of urethritis or another, it may have different causes of urethritis at once. This is especially true for women.
The main symptom of urethral inflammation from urethritis is pain when urinating (dysuria). In addition to illness, urethritis symptoms include:
- Feeling often or urgently to urinate.
- Difficulty starting urinating.
- Causes itching, pain, or discomfort when someone does not urinate.
- Pain during sex.
- Discharge (fluid) from the urethral or vaginal opening.
- In men, blood in semen or urine.
Symptoms in men
Men with urethritis may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Burning sensation when urinating.
- Itching or burning near the opening of the penis.
- Blood in semen or urine.
Symptoms in women
Some symptoms of urethritis in women include:
- More often want to urinate.
- Discomfort when urinating.
- Burn or irritation at the opening of the urethra.
- Fluid discharge from the vagina can also present with urinary symptoms.
People who suffer from urethritis may also not have real symptoms. This is especially true for women. In men, symptoms may not be obvious if urethritis develops as a result of chlamydia or sometimes trichomoniasis infection.
For this reason, it is important to undergo testing if you may have been infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
You may get a diagnosis of urethritis when the doctor records your medical history and asks for your symptoms. If you experience painful urination, your doctor may suspect an infection. He may immediately treat it with antibiotics while waiting for the test results.
Tests can help ensure a diagnosis of urethritis and its causes. Urethritis tests can include:
- Physical examination, including the genitals, stomach and rectum.
- Urine tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia, or other bacteria.
- Check any discharge under a microscope.
- Blood tests are often not needed for the diagnosis of urethritis. But blood tests can be done in certain situations.
One of the urethritis drugs that you can use is antibiotics. Antibiotics successfully cure bacterial urethritis. Many different antibiotics can treat urethritis. Some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics include:
- Adoxa, doxycycline (Vibramycin), Monodox, Oracea.
- Azithromycin (Zmax), Zithromax.
- Ceftriaxone (Rocephin).
Meanwhile, urethritis drugs caused by trichomonas infection (called trichomoniasis) are usually treated with an antibiotic called metronidazole ( Flagyl ).
Tinidazole ( Tindamax ) is another antibiotic that can treat trichomoniasis. Your sexual partner must also be treated to prevent reinfection. It is important to be retested after three months to make sure the infection is completely clean, including your sexual partner.
Uretritis because the herpes simplex virus can be treated with:
- Acyclovir (Zovirax).
- Famciclovir (Famvir).
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex).
Often, determining what organism causes urethritis cannot be identified with certainty. In this situation, your doctor may prescribe one or more antibiotics that tend to cure infections that may be present.