Skip to content
    Font Size


    Urethritis is inflammation of the urethra. That's the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.

    Pain with urination is the main symptom of urethritis. Urethritis is commonly due to infection by bacteria. It can typically be cured with antibiotics.

    Urethritis Causes

    Most episodes of urethritis are caused by infection by bacteria that enter the urethra from the skin around the urethra's opening. Bacteria that commonly cause urethritis include:

    • E. coli and other bacteria present in stool
    • Gonococcus, which is sexually transmitted and causes gonorrhea.
    • Chlamydia trachomatis, which is sexually transmitted and causes chlamydia.

    The herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2) can also cause urethritis. Trichomonas is another cause of urethritis. It is a single-celled organism that is sexually transmitted.

    Sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia are usually confined to the urethra. But they may extend into women's reproductive organs, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

    In men, gonorrhea and chlamydia sometimes cause epididymitis, an infection of the epididymis, a tube on the outside of the testes. Both PID and epididymitis can lead to infertility.

    Urethritis Symptoms

    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


    Diagnosis of Urethritis

    You may get a diagnosis of urethritis when your doctor takes your medical history and asks you about your symptoms.

    If you are having painful urination, your doctor may assume an infection is present. He or she may treat it with antibiotics right away while waiting for test results.

    Tests can help confirm the diagnosis of urethritis and its cause. Tests for urethritis can include:

    • Physical examination, including the genitals, abdomen, and rectum
    • Urine tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia, or other bacteria
    • Examination of any discharge under a microscope

    Blood tests are often not necessary for the diagnosis of urethritis. But blood tests may be done in certain situations.

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes supply kit
    Pack and prepare.
    Balding man in mirror
    Treatments & solutions.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    sticky notes on face
    10 tips to clear your brain fog.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    Trainer demonstrating exercise for RA
    Exercises for your joints.
    apple slices with peanut butter
    What goes best with workouts?
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    Myths and facts.

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.