There are a few types of urethritis, an inflammation of the bladder. One type refers to disease caused by gonorrhea and another type is not caused by gonorrhea. Antibiotics are the standard treatment.
Urethritis is an inflammation (swelling and irritation) of the urethra, the tube that takes urine (pee) from your bladder to the outside of your body. Typically, urethritis is caused by an infection. Most commonly, but not always, the cause is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
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Yes, there are different types of urethritis. They include:
Anyone can get urethritis. However, there are risk factors for urethritis. Some of them are:
There are about four million people in the U.S. who get urethritis each year. About three million of these cases aren’t caused by gonorrhea (NGU). Globally, there are about 62 million new cases per year of urethritis caused by gonorrhea and about 89 million cases of NGU each year.
These numbers may be low because it’s possible to have the condition without having symptoms. If this is true, you’re said to be asymptomatic.
Signs and symptoms of urethritis may include:
Men often have symptoms from nongonococcal urethritis, but women may not have symptoms.
Sexually transmitted infections are a common cause of urethritis. Apart from gonorrhea, other STIs are related to urethritis, including:
However, you can also get urethritis from:
Urethritis itself isn’t contagious, but the infections that cause it can be contagious. If you have urethritis caused by an STI, you should be treated for the STI. Your partner or partners should also be treated. If only one of you is treated, you’ll just keep passing the infection between you.
Your healthcare provider will take a medical history and ask you questions, some of them about your sexual history. They will also do a physical examination to check for redness or discoloration, swelling and pain.
Your provider may order tests that may include:
These tests may help your provider diagnose urethritis and the type of infection causing it.
Antibiotics are the main treatment for urethritis, either alone or in combination. Some of the antibiotics used to treat urethritis include:
Your provider may start you on antibiotics even before getting results back if they believe you have an infection. They might also suggest you use a pain reliever.
If you have urethritis from friction or from using irritating chemicals like soap or spermicide, your provider will suggest that you stop wearing tight clothing, stop using the irritant and cut back on the time you spend doing the activity that causes friction.
Many antibiotics do have side effects that can include nausea, diarrhea and stomach pain. Sometimes antibiotics may interact with other medications. Be sure to discuss all of your medications and over-the-counter treatments with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Make sure to take all of your antibiotics as instructed by your healthcare provider. Usually, you’ll need to take the medications for a week to 10 days. You’ll probably begin to feel better after a few days, but it’s important to make sure that you take the entire prescription.
You can reduce your risk of developing urethritis by:
If you have urethritis and you’re treated with the correct medication, you should be cured entirely. It’s important to note that your sexual partners must also take the medication. If only one of you is treated, you can continue to pass the infection back and forth.
If you’re both treated, you should wait until neither of you has symptoms before resuming sexual activity. Your healthcare provider is likely to give you tips on safe sex, which may include using barrier methods of contraception and infection prevention. These include condoms, female condoms and dental dams.
Urethritis may clear up on its own in time. However, if it’s caused by sexually transmitted infections, those germs will stay in your system. Untreated STIs can cause problems later. These conditions include:
If you have urethritis, you can:
If you’ve been diagnosed with urethritis, call your provider if:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you are feeling pain when you pee, or itchiness, you may have urethritis. This diagnosis is more likely if you’re sexually active and if you’ve had unprotected sex. You should make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Your provider will ask you questions about your sex life. It’s important to be honest with your provider about your sexual activity so they can provide the best diagnosis and treatment. Urethritis can be cured.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/05/2022.
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