Urethral syndrome is a set of symptoms from inflammation or irritation of the urethra
that are not related to a bacterial or viral infection. The urethra is the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder.
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Because there is no evidence of infection, the cause of urethral syndrome is often difficult to determine. Possible causes include: Undetected bacterial or viral infection of the urethra
Irritation of the urethra, caused by:
ChemotherapySpermicidal jellies used during sexBubble bathsIrritating soapsScents or perfumesInjury to the urethra caused by a blow to the pelvic areaSexual intercourse (especially in women)Urinary irritants, such as caffeine and certain foods
In women, irritation of the urethra may be caused by:
Feminine hygiene sprays or douchesSanitary napkinsContraceptive gelsCondoms
Urethral syndrome is most common in women. Factors that may lead to an undetected infection:
Unprotected sex (without use of a condom)History of sexually transmitted diseases
Bacterial infection of other parts of the urinary tract, such as the bladder or kidneyMedications that reduce your ability to fight infectionsStructural problems, such as narrowing of the urethra
Urethral syndrome may cause: Pain and/or burning while urinatingDifficulty urinating (especially after intercourse)
Increase in urinary:
FrequencyUrgencyBlood in the urineSwelling and/or tenderness in the groinPain during intercourse
In men, urethral syndrome may specifically cause: Discharge from the penisBlood in semenPain during ejaculationSwollen and/or tender testicles
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It will include a pelvic exam. Urethral syndrome is usually diagnosed when symptoms of urethritis are present without evidence of an infection.
Tests may include: Urine tests or urethral swab tests for lab studyTests for sexually transmitted diseasesCystoscopy
Treatment may include:
Antibiotics for a possible undetected infection
AnestheticsAntispasmodics to reduce bladder spasmsAntidepressantsAlpha-blocking drugs to relax muscle tone
Avoid irritants that may cause urethral syndrome. Then, wait and see if your condition improves.
Surgery may be done in cases where narrowing of the urethra is thought to be causing the urethral syndrome.
To reduce your chance of urethral syndrome:
Avoid the use of:
Spermicidal jelliesBubble bathsIrritating soapsScents or perfumesFeminine hygiene sprays and douchesUrinary irritant foods and beveragesPractice safe sex, including using condoms.Urinate immediately after sexual intercourse.Make sure sexually transmitted diseases are treated quickly and completely for you and your partner(s).Drink plenty of fluids.
Costantine E, Zucchi A, et al. Treatment of urethral syndrome: a prospective randomized study with Nd: YAG laser.
Urol Int. 2006;76:134-138.
Gittes RF, Nakamura RM. Female urethral syndrome. A female prostatitis?
West J Med.
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.
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