Injury to the urethra caused by a blow to the pelvic area
Sexual intercourse (especially in women)
Urinary irritants, such as caffeine and certain foods
Feminine hygiene sprays or douches
Urethral syndrome is most common in women. Factors that may lead to an undetected infection include:
Unprotected sex (without use of a condom)
Past sexually transmitted diseases
Bacterial infection of other parts of the urinary tract, such as the
Medicine that reduces your ability to fight infections
Structural problems, such as narrowing of the urethra
Urethral syndrome may cause:
Pain and/or burning while urinating
Difficulty urinating (especially after intercourse)
Increase in urge or frequency of urination
Blood in the urine
Swelling and/or tenderness in the groin
Pain during sex
In men, urethral syndrome may specifically cause:
Discharge from the penis
Blood in semen
Pain during ejaculation
Swollen and/or tender testicles
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical and pelvic exam will be done. Urethral syndrome is usually diagnosed if there are no signs of an infection. Tests to rule out infections or other causes may include:
The first step may be to find what is causing the irritation. The doctor may recommend stopping use of certain products such as soaps or gels. Symptoms will often pass on their own once the irritation is removed.
Medicine may help to ease symptoms. Choices may include:
Antibiotics for a possible undetected infection
Medicine to manage pain
Antispasmodics to reduce bladder spasms
Alpha-blocking drugs to relax muscle tone
To reduce your chance of urethral syndrome,
avoid the use of:
Scents or perfumes
Feminine hygiene sprays and douches
Urinary irritant foods and beverages
Other steps that may help include:
Practicing safe sex, including using condoms.
Urinating right after having sex.
Treating sexually transmitted diseases quickly and completely. Make sure your partner is treated as well.
Workowski KA, Bolan GA; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2015 Jun 5;64(RR-03):1-137.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 01/05/2021
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