St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Urethritis

    Urethral syndrome; NGU; Non-gonococcal urethritis

    Urethritis is swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the body.

    Causes

    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:

    • Injury
    • Sensitivity to the chemicals used in spermicides or contraceptive jellies, creams, or foams

    Risks for urethritis include:

    • Being a female in the reproductive years
    • Being male, ages 20 - 35
    • Having many sexual partners
    • High-risk sexual behavior (such as anal sex without a condom)
    • History of sexually transmitted diseases

    Symptoms

    In men:

    • Blood in the urine or semen
    • Burning pain while urinating (dysuria)
    • Discharge from penis
    • Fever (rare)
    • Frequent or urgent urination
    • Itching, tenderness, or swelling in penis or groin area
    • Pain with intercourse or ejaculation

    In women:

    • Abdominal pain
    • Burning pain while urinating
    • Fever and chills
    • Frequent or urgent urination
    • Pelvic pain
    • Vaginal discharge

    Exams and Tests

    The doctor or nurse will examine you. In men, the exam will include the abdomen, bladder area, penis, and scrotum. The physical exam may show:

    • Discharge from the penis
    • Tender and enlarged lymph nodes in the groin area
    • Tender and swollen penis

    A digital rectal exam will also be performed.

    Women will have abdominal and pelvic exams. The health care provider will check for:

    • Discharge from the urethra
    • Tenderness of the lower abdomen
    • Tenderness of the urethra

    Your health care provider may look into your bladder using a tube with a camera on the end. This is called cystoscopy.

    The following tests may be done:

    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • C-reactive protein test
    • Pelvic ultrasound (women only)
    • Pregnancy test (women only)
    • Urinalysis and urine cultures
    • Tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and other sexually transmitted illnesses (STI)

    Treatment

    The goals of treatment are to:

    • Eliminate the cause of infection
    • Improve symptoms
    • Prevent the spread of infection

    If you have an infection, you will be given antibiotics.

    See also:

    • Chlamydia
    • Gonorrhea

    You may take pain relievers (including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or 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.

    Urethritis that does not clear up after antibiotic treatment and lasts for at least 6 weeks is called chronic urethritis. Different antibiotics may be used to treat this problem.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    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.

    Possible Complications

    Men with urethritis are at risk for the following complications:

    • Bladder infection (cystitis)
    • Epididymitis
    • Infection in the testicles (orchitis)
    • Prostate infection (prostatitis)

    After a severe infection, the urethra may become scarred and then narrowed (urethral stricture).

    Women with urethritis are at risk for the following complications:

    • Bladder infection (cystitis)
    • Cervicitis
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID -- an infection of the uterus lining, fallopian tubes, or ovaries)

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of urethritis.

    Prevention

    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.

    References

    Brill JR. Diagnosis and treatment of urethritis in men. Am Fam Physician. 2010;81:873-878.

    McCormack WM. Urethritis. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 106.

    Cohen MS. Approach to the patient with a sexually transmitted disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 293.

    BACK TO TOP

    • Female urinary tract

      illustration

    • Male urinary tract

      illustration

      • Female urinary tract

        illustration

      • Male urinary tract

        illustration

      Tests for Urethritis

        Review Date: 9/24/2012

        Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
        adam.com

        A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


        Back  |  Top
        About Us
        Contact Us
        History
        Mission
        Locations & Directions
        Quality Reports
        Annual Reports
        Honors & Awards
        Community Health Needs
        Assessment

        Newsroom
        Services
        Brain & Spine
        Cancer
        Heart
        Maternity
        Orthopedics
        Pulmonary
        Sleep Medicine
        Urgent Care
        Women's Services
        All Services
        Patients & Visitors
        Locations & Directions
        Find a Physician
        Tour St. Luke's
        Patient & Visitor Information
        Contact Us
        Payment Options
        Financial Assistance
        Send a Card
        Mammogram Appointments
        Health Tools
        My Personal Health
        mystlukes
        Spirit of Women
        Health Information & Tools
        Clinical Trials
        Health Risk Assessments
        Employer Programs -
        Passport to Wellness

        Classes & Events
        Classes & Events
        Spirit of Women
        Donate & Volunteer
        Giving Opportunities
        Volunteer
        Physicians & Employees
        For Physicians
        Remote Access
        Medical Residency Information
        Pharmacy Residency Information
        Physician CPOE Training
        Careers
        Careers
        St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
        Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile