What is Urethritis?

Urethritis refers to the inflammation of the urethra, the tube responsible for expelling urine from the body. It typically arises from an infection, although other potential causes exist.


To establish a diagnosis, it's essential to consult a doctor. When gonorrhoea triggers the inflammation, it is referred to as gonococcal urethritis, while if another factor is responsible, it's termed non-gonococcal urethritis.


Our online medical professionals can offer the necessary diagnosis and recommend suitable treatments to address your symptoms.

Urethritis symptoms

Both men and women can experience some or all of these common symptoms of urethritis:


  • Burning or pain during urination

  • Frequent urination

  • Irritation, discomfort, or soreness

  • Vaginal or penile discharge


It's essential to note that if your urethritis is caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it may not always exhibit symptoms. Therefore, seeking medical attention promptly is crucial after engaging in unprotected sexual activity.


In severe cases, men might observe the presence of blood in their urine or semen due to urethritis. For women, ignoring these symptoms can lead to a severe condition known as pelvic inflammation, which can jeopardise fertility and future pregnancies.

Urethritis Causes

Urethritis can have various causes. Approximately 20% of cases are attributed to gonorrhoea, termed gonococcal urethritis. When it results from different infections or factors, it's called non-gonococcal urethritis. Urethritis can also occur due to urethral injury or irritation.

Common causes include:

Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia or herpes.

  • Parasitic infections, such as trichomonas vaginalis, are transmitted through unprotected vaginal intercourse.

  • Factors like kidney stones, a full bladder, catheter use, or a weakened immune system often trigger urinary tract infections (UTIs). Pregnancy also raises the risk of UTIs.

  • Viral infections.

  • Injuries sustained during sexual activity or masturbation.

  • Compression or squeezing of the urethra.

  • Damage from catheter insertion or removal.

  • Use of certain bathroom products or deodorants.

  • In women, improper wiping from back to front after bowel movements.

  • In some cases, the cause of urethritis may not be evident, leading to a doctor diagnosing non-specific urethritis (NSU).


Urethritis is more prevalent in men than women primarily due to the longer male urethra. It is the most frequently treated condition for males in the EU at sexual health clinics.


While urethritis can also affect women, detecting symptoms can be more challenging. Women rarely display any symptoms of non-gonococcal urethritis.


Since sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a frequent cause of urethritis, sexually active individuals have a higher likelihood of experiencing this condition.

Urethritis in pregnancy

Suppose your urethritis results from a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and you're pregnant or trying to conceive. In that case, seeking immediate medical attention from a doctor or midwife is crucial if you notice any symptoms.


Contracting an STI during pregnancy can elevate the risk of congenital disabilities, including conditions like conjunctivitis (which may lead to blindness), pneumonia, premature birth, low birth weight, and, in severe cases, miscarriage or stillbirth.


Neglecting to treat your symptoms promptly could also lead to developing a severe condition called pelvic inflammatory disease. This, in turn, can heighten the chance of an ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilised egg implants outside the womb, posing a threat to the fetus.


Fortunately, when identified early, the STI responsible for your urethritis can be effectively treated with a short course of antibiotics. Our medical professionals can prescribe safe medications for both you and your baby.


Our online doctors can often diagnose urethritis based on the information you provide about your symptoms during the consultation.


If deemed necessary, they may recommend tests to confirm the diagnosis. The most common diagnostic tests include:


Swab test: This procedure involves collecting a sample from your urethra using a swab.

Urine test: You will be asked to provide a urine sample using the provided container.


If your urethritis stems from an infection, especially a sexually transmitted infection (STI), our doctors can prescribe a short course of antibiotics to address the issue. This prescription will be issued during your consultation, and we'll arrange for you to pick it up at a nearby pharmacy.


It's essential to adhere to the doctor's instructions precisely when taking the medication. Stick to the prescribed dosage and frequency. Do not double up on a missed dose, which may lead to adverse effects.


Continue taking the complete course of antibiotics even if you start feeling better. This ensures the infection is completely eradicated from your system and doesn't return.


Some antibiotics may result in side effects like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea. Before issuing the prescription, the doctor will explain these potential side effects beforehand and ensure you fully comprehend them.


If the cause of your urethritis is non-infectious, our doctors can guide you in preventing a recurrence. This typically involves addressing the factor responsible for the injury or irritation, such as changing the use of bathroom products that might be irritating.


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