How is painful urination (dysuria) diagnosed?

Both men and women who experience painful urination should see a doctor. Dysuria can be a symptom of a broader physical condition that may need treatment.

Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose the cause of your painful urination by a description of your symptoms and the analysis of a urine sample. This sample will be analyzed for white blood cells, red blood cells, or foreign chemicals. The presence of white blood cells will tell your doctor if you have inflammation in the urinary tract.

A urine culture, which takes approximately two days for final results, will reveal if there is infection and which bacteria are causing a urinary tract infection. It also lets your provider know which antibiotics would work in treating the bacteria.

If no sign of infection is found in your urine sample, your doctor may suggest additional tests to look at the bladder or prostate.

For female patients, the doctor may also take a swab sample of the lining of the vagina or the urethra to check for signs of infection.

Your doctor will also take a medical history, including questions about medical conditions you may have, such as diabetes mellitus or immunodeficiency disorders. He or she may also ask about your sexual history to determine if an STI could be the cause of the pain. Tests to screen for STIs may also be needed.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/27/2016.


  • Merck Manual. Dysuria. Accessed 2/8/2017.
  • Wrenn K. Dysuria, Frequency, and Urgency. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, eds. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd ed. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 181. Accessed 2/8/2017.
  • Kurowski K. The women with dysuria. Am Fam Physician. 1998 May 1;57(9):2155-64, 2169-70.

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