Urethritis Causes & Treatment
Urethritis: Urethritis is the inflammation and swelling of the urethra, the narrow tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. It leads to difficulty or pain when urinating.
Urethritis is usually caused by bacteria or a virus. A chemical irritant can also trigger it.
It is different from a urinary tract infection (UTI) which usually affects the whole of the urinary tract.
It can be transmitted through unprotected sex. If a woman has a vaginal infection, she can pass it on to a male partner.
Symptoms of urethritis.
The main symptom of urethra inflammation from urethritis is pain with urination (dysuria). In addition to pain, urethritis symptoms include:
- Feeling the frequent or urgent need to urinate
- Difficulty starting urination
Urethritis can also cause itching, pain, or discomfort when a person is not urinating.
Other symptoms of urethritis include:
- Pain during sex
- Discharge from the urethral opening or vagina
- In men, blood in the semen or urine
People who have urethritis may also not have any noticeable symptoms. This is especially true for women. In men, symptoms may not be apparent if the urethritis developed as a result of chlamydia or occasionally trichomoniasis infection.
For this reason, it’s important to undergo testing if you may have been infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STI).
Causes of Urethritis.
Sexually transmitted infections are a common cause of urethritis. Apart from gonorrhea, other STIs are related to urethritis, including:
- Genital Herpes.
However, you can also get urethritis from:
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Yeast infections.
- Exposure to irritants like spermicides, douches and soaps.
- Squeezing your penis roughly.
- Activities that put pressure on your urethra, like riding a bicycle or some sexual acts.
- Putting something up inside your urethra, such as a catheter to help you pee.
Is urethritis contagious?
Urethritis itself isn’t contagious, but the infections that cause it can be contagious. If you have urethritis caused by an STI, you should be treated for the STI. Your partner or partners should also be treated. If only one of you is treated, you’ll just keep passing the infection between you.
Treatment for urethritis.
Treatment for urethritis typically includes a course of either antibiotics or antiviral medication. Some common treatments for urethritis include:
- Azithromycin, an antibiotic, typically taken as one time dose
- Doxycycline, an oral antibiotic that is typically taken twice a day for seven days
- Erythromycin, an antibiotic that can be administered orally, four times a day for seven days
- Ofloxacin, an oral antibiotic that is typically taken twice a day for seven days
- Levofloxacin, an oral antibiotic that is typically taken once a day for seven days If an STI caused the infection, it’s vital that all sexual partners undergo testing and treatment if necessary. This prevents the spread of the STI and reinfection.
You may see improvement in your symptoms just a few days after beginning treatment. You should still finish out your prescription as recommended by your doctor, or the infection could come become worse. Those with urethritis should wait one week once they are completely finished with their prescription and their partner has finished treatment before resuming sexual activity.
Potential drug interactions for the medications used to treat urethritis include:
- Blood thinning medications.
- Heart medications.
- Seizure medications.
How can I prevent urethritis?
Many of the bacteria that cause urethritis can pass to another person through sexual contact. Because of this, practicing safe sex is an important preventive measure. The tips below can help reduce your risk:
- Avoid having intercourse with multiple partners.
- Use protection such as condoms every time you have sex.
- Get tested regularly.
- Protect others. If you find out you have an STI, inform others who are also at risk of an infection.
Aside from safer sex practices, there are other ways to promote good urinary tract health. This can lower your risk of urethritis and some other conditions that affect this part of the body. Drink plenty of fluids and make sure to urinate shortly after intercourse. Avoid acidic foods. Also, avoid exposure to spermicides, particularly if you already know they irritate your urethra.