by Rick Alan
Urethritis is an inflammation, infection, or irritation of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder.
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Urethritis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses, including:
Risk factors that increase your chance of getting urethritis include:
People with urethritis may not have symptoms, especially women. About half of men infected with chlamydia have no symptoms.
Symptoms may include:
If left untreated, urethritis can spread and cause infection in other parts of the urinary tract such as the bladder, ureters, or kidneys.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It will include a pelvic exam. Urethritis is usually diagnosed from its symptoms. Tests to confirm the diagnosis and identify the organism causing the condition may include:
Urethritis is usually treated with medication. The type of medication will depend on the cause of the urethral infection:
Refraining form sexual activity recommended until 7 days after initiation of therapy.
If urethritis is caused by an STD, all sexual partners should be tested and treated.
Steps to prevent urethritis include:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Urological Association
Women's Health Matters
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR . 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines, Clinical prevention guidance. MMWR Recomm Rep . 2006;55(R11):1-94.
Diseases characterized by urethritis and cervicitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov... . Updated January 28, 2011. Accessed November 1, 2012.
Diseases characterized by urethritis and cervicitis. MMWR Recomm Rep . 2006;55(R11):1-94.
Miller KE. Diagnosis and treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis infection. Am Fam Physician . 2006;73:1411-1416.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013