Urethritis is an inflammation, infection, or irritation of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder.
Urethritis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses, including:
Urethritis is more common in women. Other factors that may increase your chance of urethritis include:
People with urethritis may not have symptoms, especially women. About half of men infected with chlamydia have no symptoms.
Urethritis may cause:
Urethritis symptoms specific to men may include:
If left untreated, urethritis can spread and cause infection in other parts of the urinary tract such as the bladder, ureters, or kidneys.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It will include a pelvic exam. Urethritis is usually diagnosed from its symptoms. Tests to confirm the diagnosis and identify the organism causing the condition may include:
Urethritis is usually treated with medication. The type of medication will depend on the cause of the urethral infection:
Refraining from sexual activity recommended until 7 days after initiation of therapy.
If urethritis is caused by an STD, all sexual partners should be tested and treated.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Urological Association
Women's Health Matters
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.
Diseases characterized by urethritis and cervicitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/urethritis-and-cervicitis.htm. Updated January 28, 2011. Accessed August 17, 2015.
Diseases characterized by urethritis and cervicitis. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2006;55(R11):1-94.
Miller KE. Diagnosis and treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis infection. Am Fam Physician. 2006;73:1411-1416.
Nongonococcal urethritis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116488/Nongonococcal-urethritis. Updated December 27, 2015. Accessed September 12, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.