Urethra Pain Not a UTI, What Is Causing It?

The urethra is the tube through which urine is excreted from the bladder. In men, the tube is long and is located within the penis, while in women, it is shorter and is located in the pelvis. A man or woman may get urethra pain that is either sharp or dull, comes and goes, or remains constant. Most people will associate such pain with urinary tract infection. However, urethral pain may arise from other causes. 

Pain in Urethra Not UTI, What Can It Be?

If you have pain in the urethra, you should consult a medical specialist such as a urologist for correct diagnosis. Below are the main reasons why you may be experiencing urethral pain:

1. Urethral Syndrome

Urethral syndrome bears many similarities with UTI, regarding symptoms like frequent and painful urination. But in case of urethral syndrome, an investigation will reveal few or no bacteria. The syndrome is more common in women than in men and is caused by the following;

Irritation caused by:

  • Chemotherapy and radiation
  • Certain food or drink ingredients such as caffeine
  • Scented products such as perfumes, soaps, and tampons
  • Spermicidal jellies

Physical injury to the urethra caused by:

  • Cycling
  • Sexual activity
  • Use of diaphragm
  • Using tampons

2. Interstitial Cystitis (IC)

Pain in urethra not UTI? It may be interstitial cystitis. Interstitial cystitis is a chronic bladder condition that causes pain in urethra. It is a painful condition because the bladder holds urine long after the kidneys have filtered it out. Symptoms of IC can be spontaneous or persistent, depending on the severity of the condition. It is a condition with severe symptoms that can keep you up all night, urinating up to 60 times.

What Causes IC?

While the exact cause of IC is not known, the following are believed to contribute to it.

  • Bladder tissue problems may lead to irritation by some ingredients in urine.
  • Inflammation in the bladder causes your body to release chemicals that irritate the bladder further and cause IC symptoms.
  • A nerve problem in the bladder causes it to be extra sensitive even to ordinary conditions.
  • An autoimmune disorder causes pain in urethra.

3. Anatomic Abnormalities

Although it is less common, pain and increased frequency to urinate may indicate an anatomic abnormality in the urethra. A cyst or abscess in the Skene’s glands (located on either side of the urethra), can cause the urethra to constrict and subsequently narrow the urine passageway.

4. Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea often present symptoms of urinary tract infection including pain in the urethra. Chlamydia which is the most common STD is curable but can lead to serious complication if not treated early. It can even cause infertility in women.

Mucus and discharge of pus from the vagina or penis are other common symptoms coupled with pain or burning sensation during urination.

5. Kidney Stones

Pain in urethra not UTI? Kidney stones may be blamed. Kidney stones are solids made up of salts, minerals and other materials. They form in the kidneys and are excreted through the urinary tract. While small-sized kidney stones make their way uneventfully, larger masses can cause injury and lead to irritation including pain in urethra. Treatment for kidney stones may require medical intervention or even surgery.

6. Hormones

Pain in the urethral area can be caused by lack of estrogen hormone. In the urethra, estrogen plays the vital role of making the urethra membranes thick, keeping them moist and enhancing their resilience.

The less estrogen hormone produced, the drier the vagina, vulva, and urethra, which can cause pain and irritation. If this is the case, your physician will prescribe a topical treatment that will soothe the skin around the urethra.

7. Pelvic Floor Tension

The pelvic floor muscles can play a role in causing pain around the urethra and vulva regions. The pelvic muscles support the pelvic organs and wrap around the urethra, rectum, and vagina. The tension in the pelvic floor muscles causes them to become tight and lead to pain during sex or bowel movement. The best way to handle this situation is with pelvic floor muscle therapy.

Diagnosis and Self-Care Tips of Pain in the Urethra

A complete medical history and physical assessment will be undertaken. Your physician will possibly ask for a urine analysis and culture to determine the problem or rule out other conditions before making a diagnosis of pain in urethra not UTI.

Other tests that may be used include:

  • Cystoscopy
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • An ultrasound of the kidneys and bladder
  • Radionuclide scan
  • STD tests
  • Urodynamic test
  • Cystourethrogram

Self-Care Tips

The treatment of pain in urethra depends on the underlying causes. Consult your doctor for appropriate remedies. Following are some self-care tips that can be helpful.

  • Drink lots of water to flush the urinary tract.
  • Clean your genitals using only clean water. Avoid soaps.
  • Avoid perfumed bathing products.
  • Use the front-to-back method of wiping, using unscented toilet paper.
  • Use unscented sanitary wear only.
  • Urinate before and after sex.
  • Ensure you take the full dosage of the medicines prescribed and do a followup checkup.
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