Urethritis is a disease characterized by the swelling or inflammation of the urethra, the tube through which urine travels from the urinary bladder to outside of the body. People with this condition experience acute pain while urinating. One of the most common causes of urethritis is a bacterial infection caused by E.coli, Gonococcus (which also causes gonorrhea) and Chlamydia trachomatis (responsible for chlamydia). The viruses HSV-1 and HSV-2 may also be responsible.
The microorganisms that cause urethritis are often transmitted from one individual to another during sexual intercourse. However, the most common cause of urethritis is a lack of hygiene near the genitals which causes parasites to enter the urethra. This may lead to more severe infections such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in women and Epididymitis men. When left untreated, these conditions lead to infertility.
In addition to pain while urinating, other symptoms of urethritis include pain during intercourse, purulent discharge from the vagina in women or the urethral opening in men, and the presence of blood in urine or semen. Patients may also feel an urgent need to urinate frequently. In some cases, patients experience difficulty in starting urination.
In male patients, physicians generally examine the testicles and the opening in the penis for any soreness or redness. A cotton swab is inserted 1-4 cm deep into the urethra and rotated slowly. The swab is smeared on a glass slide which is then examined under a microscope to identify the type of infection and parasites causing it.
Depending on the cause of the patient’s urithritis, suitable drugs may be prescribed. Some common medications include the antibiotics erythromycin, metronidazole, doxycycline, tinidazole, azithromycin, levofloxacin or ofloxacin. If a viral infection is responsible, the drugs prescribed might include valtrex, zovirax or famvir. Physicians commonly stress the importance of perineal hygiene (perineum is the area between the vagina and anus in females, while in males, it is the region between scrotum and anus). This requires proper wiping of the area after bath, urination or bowel movements. Patients are advised not to engage in sexual intercourse until the symptoms subside in order to prevent transferring the infection to a partner.
The risk of contracting urethritis is reduced by the use of condoms. The chemicals present in some lotions, detergents, spermicides and contraceptives can also cause irritation in the urethra. If any pain or itching is felt while urinating, it is important to consult with a urologist right away. The physicians of Advanced Urology Institute have treated many such cases successfully. They provide effective treatments for relief from the pain and discomfort of urethritis.