The urethra is a very important part of the body. It is the duct through which urine is eliminated, as well as the pathway for semen to exit the body in men. However, it is easy for this duct to become inflamed or infected, especially in women. The urethra opens to the outside of the body for urine to exit, but bacteria and other foreign matter can all to easily enter from the other direction, leading to pain that can cause, at the least, embarrassment, and extreme discomfort or pain at its worst.
For women especially, the use of scented soaps and lotions in the urethral area can lead to big problems. The main cause of these problems is urethritis or inflammation of the urethra. In most cases, this is a minor problem, simply a skin reaction to these products. Switching to a different soap can bring quick relief. Lotion should also be kept away from the genital area -- it is not needed there anyway.
Semen can irritate the urethra in both men and women. In an overwhelming majority of these cases, the reason for this is improper hygiene after sexual intercourse. Both women and men should urinate after sex to free the urethra of any substances (including both remaining semen and bacteria) that may have come into contact with it. They should also gently wash the area with water to prevent the build-up of bacteria. Uncircumcised men should take special care to clean under the foreskin, as this is a common place for semen to become trapped.
Just as semen itself can cause urethra pain, so can the spermicide used to keep the sperm from surviving inside a woman's body. Spermicides are a type of birth control applied inside the vagina before intercourse. The chemicals within it stop sperm from being carried to the egg, but they can also irritate the entire vaginal area. The chemicals may cause inflammation of and pain in the urethra. Switching to an alternate method of birth control may help this problem.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the Neisseria gonorrheae bacteria. This leading cause of urethra pain is often more serious than those previously mentioned. Along with pain, gonorrhea can cause a greenish-yellow discharge from both a male's penis and a woman's vagina. It can cause pain in the rest of the pelvic area as well, along with itchiness and a burning sensation when urinating. Gonorrhea requires treatment from a doctor.
Trichomoniasis is a parasitic sexually transmitted disease that can cause urethra pain. It is only diagnosable by a physician, who can prescribe an antimicrobial medication. Trichomoniasis causes itching, irritation, and pain upon urinating for both men and women. In women, it can also cause a frothy discharge with a strong, unpleasant odor. For men, the most distinctive symptom is penile discomfort.
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world. It is also one of the most common causes of urethritis. It can lead to inflammation and pain of the urethra, as well as discharge. Pain upon ejaculation in men and intercourse in women is a common symptom. In some cases, however, it can be completely asymptomatic.
No list of causes would be complete without the infamous urinary tract infection or UTI, an extremely common cause of urethra pain. UTIs occur more in women than in men, because the female urethra is much shorter the male's, making it more vulnerable to infection by bacteria. Other symptoms of UTIs include urinary urgency and frequency, and blood-tinged urine. Treatment can include home remedies like drinking cranberry juice, or a round of antibiotics.
An obstruction in the urinary tract can cause urethra pain. Causes include urethral strictures (the narrowing of the urethra in people who have had frequent UTIs or used a catheter for a long period), an enlarged prostate gland, and tumors. Ovarian, uterine, bladder, and prostate cancers can all cause tumors that press on the urethra, blocking it from completely emptying and making it difficult for urine to pass through. Treatment revolves around the cause of the obstruction.
Surprisingly, medications themselves can cause urethra pain. A medication that treats high blood pressure and angina can irritate the urethra. Radiation therapy can also cause a condition, radiation cystitis, which can become chronic. People suffering from his type of urethra pain should consult with a doctor to see about alternate methods of treatments for their underlying conditions.
Food would be the last suspect on anyone's list of causes of urethra pain. However, many common foods and drinks we consume every day can lead to this symptom, including coffee, tea, orange juice, and other acidic fruit juices, chocolate, products made with tomatoes, and carbonated beverages such as sparkling water or soft drinks. Altering one's diet could be all it takes to eliminate urethral pain, but it is still a good idea to check with a doctor before making any major modifications.
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