Urethritis is inflammation or infection of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that connects the urinary bladder to the outside of the body and includes the opening at the end of the penis. Urine and semen pass through the urethra.
Urethritis may be caused by the germs that cause sexually transmitted disease (STD), or the germs that cause urinary tract infections (UTI), also called bladder infections.
Who is at risk of urethritis?
Men between 20-35 years of age are mostly at risk for developing infectious urethritis. Also, men who have multiple sexual partners or those who engage in high-risk behaviors such as unprotected or anal sex, are also exposed to urethritis.
What Causes of Urethritis in Men?
- Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia cause the majority of cases of infectious urethritis. The virus that causes herpes and other sexual infections can equally cause urethritis.
- Chemical irritation caused by soaps, lotions, and colognes can cause discomfort in the urethra. Spermicide in condoms and contraceptive jelly, cream, or foam can also cause irritation.
- Minor trauma may lead to urethritis. Medical procedures, rubbing on rough clothing, as well as forceful sexually activity or masturbation can cause a temporary irritation of the urethra.
- Chronic urethritis (when the condition lasts for weeks or months or goes away and comes back) may be caused by bacteria, or it can also be caused by a narrowing of the urethra.
READ ALSO: Urinary Tract Infections, UTIs in Men
What Are the Symptoms of Urethritis in Men?
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Itching, tenderness, or swelling in the penis
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Blood in urine or semen
Some infections may also be associated with discharge from the penis. Painful ulcers on the genitals can be present with herpes urethritis, another STD.
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Simple urethritis does not cause severe illness. But if the disease spreads to other organs in the genital or urinary tract or into the bloodstream, it may result to high fevers, back pain, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, and swollen joints.
When to See a Doctor for Urethritis
You may not need to see your doctor for temporary, mild urethritis that occurs as a result of from using a new soap or lotion. However other cases of urethritis may need to be checked.
- If you are experiencing pain with urination following a medical procedure, contact your physician to discuss the need for evaluation or treatment. The pain may be an expected side effect of the procedure, or it may indicate the beginning of an infection.
- All other cases of burning with urination require medical attention within 24 hours.
How Is Urethritis in Men Diagnosed?
Your doctor may require your urine specimen. The specimen will be examined for signs of infection and inflammation. The doctor will thoroughly examine your penis and testicles and do a rectal exam to evaluate your prostate for signs of infection. The doctor may use a thin swab to collect a specimen from the urethra. A blood sample may be tested if your doctor suspects you have an STD.
Are There Home Remedies for Urethritis in Men?
Home care for urethritis get rid of its symptoms. Some of these remedies include;
- Drink lots of water or fluid to dilute your urine. This will lessen the pain you feel when passing out urine.
- You may take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen for pain control.
- Sitz baths can help with the burning pain associated with chemical irritant urethritis. To take a sitz bath, fill the tub with 6-8 inches of warm water, just enough to cover your genitals when you sit in the tub. Try these a few times a day. Don’t use soap or anything else in the bathtub that may further irritate the sores.
What Is the Treatment for Urethritis?
Infections cause most cases of urethritis.
If you seem well otherwise, antibiotics are used. Sometimes you will get a shot (or antibiotic injection). The duration of treatment ranges from one to 14 days. In cases of STI, antibiotics are used routinely. You should avoid sex until you and your partner have completed medical treatment.
Anyone with signs of severe infection that has spread throughout the body may require admission to a hospital for IV antibiotics.
How do you Prevent Urethritis?
Prevention includes abstinence from all sexual activities and the use of condoms, or other forms of barrier protection.
Irritants that cause skin or urethral inflammation such as soap, lotion, detergent or cologne should be discontinued.
What are the Complications of Urethritis?
When treated early, simple urethritis has few complications. However, if left untreated for long and allowed to progress, you may develop a kidney infection, bladder infection, or infection involving your testicles or prostate. Long-term problems might lead to urethral blockages or infertility.