Urethritis is inflammation of the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder to be expelled from the body. It is commonly triggered by infection, but there are other causes as well. The condition may also go by the name non-gonococcal urethritis, when it is not caused by gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease.
Both men and women can develop urethritis, although diagnosis is more common in men. This may be due to the fact, though, that many women with urethritis do not experience any symptoms.
The most common cause of urethritis is bacteria or a virus. The bacteria causing urethritis are the same that cause bladder and kidney infections. Additionally, bacteria found around the genital area may enter the urethra, too, thus causing urethritis. These bacteria include Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, and Mycoplasma genitalium.
Viruses that can cause urethritis include human papillomavirus (HPV), the herpes simplex virus, and the cytomegalovirus.
Signs and symptoms of urethritis can differ in men and women. In fact, many women may not even experience any symptoms at all. Typical symptoms that may occur in men are painful or burning sensation when urinating, irritation on the tip of the penis, and a white, cloudy discharge from the tip of the penis.
For women, symptoms of urethritis include frequent urge to urinate, discomfort while urinating, pain in the abdominal area, high body temperature, chills, urgent need to urinate, and abnormal discharge from the vagina.
If left untreated, urethritis can have lasting effects, which can be quite serious. Complications resulting from urethritis include the spread of the infection to other parts of the urinary tract system, including the bladder or kidneys, damage to the reproductive organs (if caused by an STD), and in severe cases infertility. This is why getting tested and beginning treatment right away is so important.
Diagnostic process for urethritis starts with a doctor’s appointment and referral for testing. Two main tests to diagnose urethritis are a swab test and a urine test. For the swab test, your doctor will collect fluid from the urethra, and the sample will then be examined under a microscope to find bacteria. The urine test involves examining a urine sample. For better reliability, the doctor may ask you not urinate for up to two hours before the test.
Once your doctor has obtained the results, they will be able to diagnose your condition and offer treatment recommendations.
Treatment options for urethritis usually involve either antibiotics or antiviral medications. It’s important that you follow your treatment as prescribed to cure urethritis and lower your risk of complications. If urethritis was caused by a STD, both partners will need to take the medication prescribed.
Prevention tips to reduce your risk of urethritis include avoiding sexual intercourse with multiple partners, using condoms during sex, getting tested for STDs, and informing others you have an STD if that’s the case.
Home remedies to get rid of urethritis include consuming cranberry juice, eating yogurt regularly, increasing your intake of garlic in meals, abstaining from sexual intercourse during urethritis treatment, staying hydrated to flush out bacteria, using a heating pad, rinsing the urethra with baking soda, consuming apple cider vinegar with honey, eating pineapples, and massaging tea tree oil into the abdomen.
Combining home remedies with your prescribed medications can help you recover quicker from urethritis all the while reducing the risk of complications.