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.
Urethral syndrome is most common in women.
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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
Risk factors for urethral syndrome include: Sex: female
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 (
Medications that reduce your ability to fight infectionsStructural problems, such as narrowing of the urethra
The symptoms of urethral syndrome are similar to those of urethritis. Symptoms may include: 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
Discharge from the penisBlood in semenPain during ejaculationSwollen and/or tender testicles
Your doctor will ask 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—given if your doctor thinks urethral syndrome may be due to an undetected infection
Phenazopyridine—may be given by your doctor to ease discomfort while urinatingIntraurethral lidocaine jellyAntispasmodics to decrease bladder muscle spasm, such as oxybutyninAntidepressants, such as a tricyclic antidepressant to relieve painAlpha-blocking drugs, such as
to relax smooth 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.
Measures that may help prevent urethral syndrome include:
Avoiding the use of:
Spermicidal jelliesBubble bathsIrritating soapsScents or perfumesFeminine hygiene sprays and douchesUrinary irritant foods and beveragesPracticing safe sex, including using condomsUrinating immediately after sexual intercourseMaking sure sexually transmitted diseases are treated quickly and completely for you and your partnerRegularly drinking plenty of fluids
Costantine E, Zucchi A, et al. Treatment of urethral syndrome: a prospective randomized study with Nd: YAG laser.
Gittes RF, Nakamura RM. Female urethral syndrome. A female prostatitis?
West J Med
Last reviewed September 2013 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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