Urethral syndrome is a set of symptoms from inflammation or irritation of the urethra that are not related to a bacterial or viral infection. The urethra is the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder.
Because there is no evidence of infection, the cause of urethral syndrome is often difficult to determine. Possible causes include:
- Undetected bacterial or viral infection of the urethra
- Irritation of the urethra, caused by:
In women, irritation of the urethra may be caused by:
- Feminine hygiene sprays or douches
- Sanitary napkins
- Contraceptive gels
Urethral syndrome is most common in women. Factors that may lead to an undetected infection:
Urethral syndrome may cause:
- Pain and/or burning while urinating
- Difficulty urinating (especially after intercourse)
Increase in urinary:
- Blood in the urine
- Swelling and/or tenderness in the groin
- Pain during intercourse
In men, urethral syndrome may specifically cause:
- Discharge from the penis
- Blood in semen
- Pain during ejaculation
- Swollen and/or tender testicles
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It will include a pelvic exam. Urethral syndrome is usually diagnosed when symptoms of urethritis are present without evidence of an infection.
Tests may include:
Treatment may include:
- Antibiotics for a possible undetected infection
- Antispasmodics to reduce bladder spasms
- Alpha-blocking drugs to relax muscle tone
Avoidance of Irritants
Avoid irritants that may cause urethral syndrome. Then, wait and see if your condition improves.
To reduce your chance of urethral syndrome:
Avoid the use of:
- Spermicidal jellies
- Bubble baths
- Irritating soaps
- Scents or perfumes
- Feminine hygiene sprays and douches
- Urinary irritant foods and beverages
- Practice safe sex, including using condoms.
- Urinate immediately after sexual intercourse.
- Make sure sexually transmitted diseases are treated quickly and completely for you and your partner(s).
- Drink plenty of fluids.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases
Canadian Urological Association
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Costantine E, Zucchi A, et al. Treatment of urethral syndrome: a prospective randomized study with Nd: YAG laser. Urol Int. 2006;76:134-138.
Gittes RF, Nakamura RM. Female urethral syndrome. A female prostatitis? West J Med. 1996;164:435-438.
Last reviewed August 2015 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.