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Urethritis is the name used to describe inflammation of the urethra. Your urethra is a small tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body.
Urethritis is most commonly caused by bacteria related to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), although the condition can occur separately.
The bacteria most commonly involved in STD-related urethritis are the gonococcus bacteria, responsible for the STD gonorrhea. Nongonococcal urethritis can also be caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria, responsible for the STD chlamydia.
If left untreated, infections can spread beyond just the bladder and urethra, reaching the uterus and fallopian tubes in women or the kidneys in both genders.
A burning sensation while urinating
Itching or burning near the opening of the penis
Blood in the semen or urine
Abnormal discharge from the penis
Pain or discomfort while urinating
Burning or itching at the opening of the urethra
Abnormal discharge from the vagina
Urethritis is most commonly caused by bacterial infections, with the majority of cases attributed to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. These bacteria can infect the urethra through sexual contact, leading to irritation, discomfort, and symptoms such as pain or a burning sensation during urination. Other non-sexually transmitted factors, such as urinary tract infections or chemical irritants, can also trigger urethritis.
Urethritis is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, an examination of the affected site, and laboratory tests. A healthcare provider will often inquire about the patient's symptoms, sexual activity, and potential risk factors for sexually transmitted infections. The most definitive method for diagnosing urethritis is through laboratory testing, which can include:
Urethral fluid analysis
Nucleic acid amplification test
Urethritis is typically treated with antibiotics, and the specific medication prescribed depends on the underlying cause of the infection. If the urethritis is due to a bacterial sexually transmitted infection like Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, a short course of antibiotics is usually sufficient to clear the infection. It's essential for sexual partners to be treated simultaneously to prevent reinfection. In cases of non-bacterial urethritis, where the condition may be related to chemical irritants or other factors, identifying and eliminating the source of irritation is crucial. During treatment, individuals are advised to abstain from sexual activity, including unprotected sex, until both they and their partners have completed treatment and received confirmation of clearance from the infection.
NOTE: Lab testing is NOT required prior to treatment if you have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms.
CallonDoc offers both at-home test kits and in-person lab testing. After treatment we recommend a test of cure 2-3 weeks after completing treatment to confirm clearing the infection.
Ongoing management for urethritis, in conjunction with treatment, encompasses several key steps. It is crucial for individuals to complete their prescribed antibiotic treatment to ensure the infection is entirely cleared. Simultaneously, their sexual partners should be treated to prevent reinfection, as the bacteria or pathogens responsible for urethritis may easily pass between partners during sexual activity. Follow-up testing after treatment is highly recommended to confirm the eradication of the infection. Due to it often being a symptom of an STD or infection, management of urethritis symptoms will typically be paired up with treatment covering the infection’s source.
Preventing urethritis primarily involves practicing safe sexual behaviors and taking proactive measures to reduce the risk of infection. This includes consistent and correct use of latex or polyurethane condoms during sexual intercourse, which acts as a barrier and reduces the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including those that cause urethritis. Limiting sexual partners and maintaining a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner can also significantly lower the chances of contracting or spreading urethritis. Regular STI testing and early treatment for both partners are crucial for effective prevention. Moreover, maintaining good genital hygiene and avoiding potential irritants or chemicals that could lead to urethritis can further reduce the risk of infection.
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