Urethritis is a condition, characterized by inflammation of the urethra. Bacterial and viral infections are known to cause this disorder.
Symptoms of urethritis are different for men and women. The following symptoms are experienced :
Symptoms in men with urethritis
Symptoms in women with urethritis
A preliminary physical examination would be carried out in men and women suffering from urethritis. In men, the abdomen, penis, scrotum and bladder will be examined. This would reveal tenderness and swelling in the penis region, abnormal discharge from penis and enlarged lymph nodes in the groin area.
In women, the abdominal and pelvic would be thoroughly examined. The examination would reveal tenderness of urethra accompanied by tenderness in the lower abdominal region and abnormal discharge from the urethra .
In many instances, a digital rectal examination would also be carried out. Some additional tests would also be required to confirm the condition of urethritis. These would include a complete blood count, urine culture to test for presence of bacterial infections, urethral swab and tests for sexually transmitted diseases . In addition to these tests, women would also require a pregnancy test and pelvic ultrasound for diagnosing urethritis.
The primary goal of treatment of urethritis includes eradication of infection, methods to prevent spread of infection and effective management of symptoms. The following methods are employed for treating urethritis :
If urethritis is diagnosed in the preliminary stages and appropriate treatment is initiated, then the condition recovers completely without causing further complications. However when the disease progresses to more advanced stages then a condition known as urethral stricture can develop. This primarily occurs when the disease continues for longer duration and the urethral tissue gets damaged. In women, if the infection spreads to the pelvic region, then it can lead to fertility problems .
Bacterial and viral infections are the major factors contributing towards development of urethritis. The bacteria responsible for causing sexually transmitted disease also cause inflammation of the urethra. The normal microflora that is present in the genital regions can also cause urethritis if they gain entry into the urinary tract. Certain viruses such as the human papillomavirus, cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus also causes urethritis.
Individuals who are sensitive to the chemicals which are used in spermicides, creams or foams are also predisposed to develop urethritis. Females who are in their reproductive age, males above 35 years, those having multiple sexual partners and those who practice unsafe sex are at an increased risk of developing urethritis .
Posttraumatic urethritis may occur following catheterization or foreign body insertion.
It has been estimated that about 4 million cases of urethritis occur in America each year. Gonococcoal urethritis strikes 700,000 individuals annually. The occurrence rate of gonococcal urethritis has undergone a significant decline from the year 2000. The incidence of nongonococcal urethritis is increasing and about 3 million cases occur annually.
Statistics have also reported that across the globe, about 62 million and 89 million new cases of gonococcal and nongonococcal urethrtitis respectively occur each year .
There are 2 basic phenomenons that give rise to the condition of urethritis. Infections and traumatic events like catheterization or foreign body insertion can favor development of inflammation of the urethra. Of these, infections are known to be the major causative factor. Bacteria that cause sexually transmitted diseases are the major organisms that are known to play foul.
Patients who undergo catheterization and instrumentation are at an increased risk of contracting urethritis. Individuals who use latex catheterization are 10 times more likely to develop the condition than those who make use of silicone catheterization. In addition to these factors, individuals suffering from certain infectious syndromes such as otitis media, pneumonia, reactive arthritis, prostatitis, urinary tract infection, epididymitis and proctitis are also at an increased risk of suffering from urethritis .
Practicing safe sex is one of the major methods of preventing urethritis. In addition, following various ways to promote good urinary tract health would also go a long way in preventing the onset of urethritis. Individuals are advised to drink plenty of fluids and urinate shortly after intercourse. Such a practice would help in flushing out bacteria from the urinary system .
Urethra is a tube that is responsible for carrying urine and the removal of fluids from the body. Therefore, individuals suffering from urethritis, experience painful urination. The condition of urethritis, usually occurs due to inflammation caused by sexually transmitted diseases. In other words, individuals with sexually transmitted diseases are at an increased risk of contracting such a type of condition. Males and females are equally affected; however, it is thought that females have higher chances of being affected .