(Updated at Mar 23 / 2023)
What is urethritis and how is it treated?
Urethritis is an inflammation of the urethra, a channel through which urine leaves the body. The disease can develop both in men and women although in men it occurs more frequently and the symptoms are more intense due to the anatomical features. In women, the disease can be present without any symptoms. Considering this and that disease can develop after unprotected intercourse, urethritis is mostly dangerous for men who frequently change sexual partners and do not use condoms.
Urethritis is an unpleasant disease but seemingly harmless. However, it can cause serious complications. Without proper treatment, in men it can cause the damage to the seminal glands, prostatitis, cystitis, and it is a common underlying cause of the development of male infertility and impotence. In women, cystitis, pyelonephritis and other diseases of the genitourinary system can become urethritis complications.
Short information about urethritis
In order to prevent such problems, it is important to regularly undergo gynecological (for women) and urological (for men) examinations and do all necessary tests. And in the occurrence of symptoms go to a doctor immediately and follow all doctor’s recommendations strictly. Besides, it is important to remember that even if symptoms are present in one sexual partner another also should undergo the therapy as the disease can be present without any symptoms.
Symptoms of urethritis
- Burning sensation, acute pain, and itching during urination;
- Discharges from the urethra (purulent, mucous or mixed with blood);
- Swelling and inflammation of the outer part of urethra;
- Reddening of the genitalia;
- Increased sensitivity and painfulness in the genitalia;
- Discomfort during intercourse;
- Frequent urges to urinate even after complete emptying of the bladder;
- Weak urine flow;
- Rise of the body temperature.
If you have at least one of the symptoms, it is necessary to go to a urologist or gynecologist (for women) as soon as possible. Timely treatment is necessary to reduce the duration of the unpleasant symptoms and prevent the transition of the disease into a chronic phase that means regular occurrence of these symptoms.
Types of urethritis
The disease is divided into primary and secondary.
Primary is an alone-standing condition that develops on its own namely with the inflammation of urethra in the penetration of microbes.
Secondary urethritis develops when the infection spreads from the primary foci of the infection to urethra. For instance, it can spread from bladder, prostate gland, vagina, and so on.
The disease is also classified as gonococcal and non-gonococcal urethritis based on the type of the causative agent.
Gonococcal urethritis is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The symptoms usually start to develop within 3-10 days after contracting infection. In around 50% of cases, the disease is present without any symptoms.
Non-gonococcal urethritis can be caused by different pathogens but the most common is Chlamydia trachomantis that is responsible for the disease occurrence in 40-50% cases. Other frequent causative agents are Ureaplasma urealyticum and Mycoplasma genitalium that cause around 20-30% of the disease cases. The manifstations of the disease in these pathogens usually develop in on to five weeks after contracting the infection.
In 20% of disease cases, the causative agent cannot be established.
How it the disease diagnosed?
The diagnosis is made based on the patient’s complaints, physical examination, and laboratory tests. The tests include urine test and the test of the discharges extracted from the inner part of urethra with a cotton swab.
What can cause urethritis?
The disease can be acquired during an unprotected intercourse and in:
- Frequent change of sexual partners;
- Sexually-transmitted infections;
- Poor hygiene;
- Use of other people’s towels (especially for genitalia);
- Kidney stones;
- Medical manipulations using tools that were not well disinfected;
- Urethra injuries;
- Decreased immunity;
- Excessive consumption of junk food (salty, spicy, smoked, pickled foods);
- Excessive alcohol consumption;
- The presence of infectious and inflammatory diseases of the genitourinary system.
How is urethritis treated?
Gonococcal uncomplicated urethritis is treated with the antibiotic ceftriaxone by 250 mg intramuscularly (one injection) with the subsequent use of Doxycycline 100 mg in tablets 2 times a day for 7 days.
Instead of an injection, a single dosage of spectinomycin of 2 grams orally can be used. Besides, regardless of the sexual partner’s test for the infection, they should also receive the same therapy.
Non-gonococcal urethritis is treated based on the causative agent. The recommended treatment implies:
- Doxycycline 100 mg - 1 tablet 2 times a day for 7 days or - Azithromycin 1 g - orally single dose.
If the disease is caused by trichomonas, it is advised to use a single dosage of Metronidazole 2 grams or take it for 7 days by 500 mg twice a day. Regardless of the sexual partner’s test for the infection, they should also receive the same therapy. If the causative agent isn’t established, it is advised to use antibiotics with broad spectrum of activity except for penicilins.
Prophylaxis and prevention of urethritis
- Avoid changing sexual partners frequently;
- Always use condoms;
- Observe good personal hygiene and do not use other people’s hygienic means;
- Quit bad habits (alcohol abuse, smoking);
- Avoid overcooling;
- Treat all diseases timely and only as prescribed by a doctor;
- Follow healthy eating style, i.e. lower the consumption of excessively salty, spicy, smoked, and pickled products;
- Go to a urologist or gynecologist once a year for a regular checkup.
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