Urethritis isÂ inflammationÂ of the urethra from any cause.
Urethritis may be caused by bacteria or a virus. The same bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (E. coli) and some sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia, gonorrhea) can lead to urethritis. Viral causes of urethritis include herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus.
Other causes include:
Risks for urethritis include:
The health care provider will perform a physical examination. In men, the exam will include the abdomen, bladder area, penis, and scrotum. The physical exam may show:
A digital rectal exam will also be performed.
Women will have abdominal and pelvic exams. The health care provider will check for:
The following tests may be done:
The goals of therapy are to:
Antibiotic therapy should target the bacteria causing the infection. In some cases, antibiotics may need to be given through a vein (by IV). You may take pain relievers (including pyridium, which works on the urinary tract) along with antibiotics.
People with urethritis who are being treated should avoid sex or use condoms during sex. If an infection is the cause of the inflammation, your sexual partner must also be treated.
Urethritis caused by trauma or chemical irritants is treated by avoiding the source of injury or irritation.
With the correct diagnosis and treatment, urethritis usually clears up without any complications. However, urethritis can lead to permanent damage to the urethra (scar tissue called urethral stricture) and other urinary organs in both men and women.
Men with urethritis are at risk for the following complications:
Women with urethritis are at risk for the following complications:
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of urethritis.
Some causes of urethritis may be avoided with good personal hygiene and by practicing safer sexual behaviors such as monogamy (one sexual partner only) and using condoms.