Urethritis simply means inflammation of the urethra. The urethra is a tube which connect the bladder that stores urine to the external urethral meatus where urine comes out from.
Inflammation of the urethra is more common from infectious causes than traumatic causes and sexually transmitted infection (STI) is the most common cause. Find out all you need to know as you read along
Who does it affects?
Urethritis can affect men of any age. However, it is typically common amongst adolescents and adult men. The prevalence is greatest in men younger than 25 years. In most countries of the world, it is the most commonly diagnosed and treated condition in men at the genito-urinary clinic.
Worldwide, there are an estimated 376 million new infections with 1 of 4 STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis each year.
What Can Increase One’s Risk?
- Sexually active men
2. Recent change of sexual partners
3. Past history of sexually transmitted infection
4. Having unprotected sexual intercourse
5. Men who sleep with men or are bisexual have a higher chance of getting Urethritis
6. Age less than 35-40
7. More common in men living in cities
Classification of Urethritis
Urethritis can be classified into;
- Gonococcal Urethritis– This occurs following infection with a bug called Neisseria gonorrhoeae
- Non-gonococcal Urethritis;
-This is caused by bugs other than Neisseria gonorrhoeae such as Chlamydia Trachomatis, Mycoplasma genitalium, Trichomonas vaginalis etc
-This can also be caused by unusual bugs such as Syphilis, Herpes genitalis etc.
-Other non infectious causes such as Trauma. It can occur with urinary catheter, foreign body insertion or when an instrument is applied to the urethra.
- Recurrent/Persistent Urethritis- It can be from re-infection or improper treatment of last infection or a condition called “venereophobia.” Venereophobia is a term used to describe the act where an individual is constantly milking the urethra to check for infection and this can induce inflammation of the urethra
Before we go further, if you would like to know your sexual health state, you can find out here now. If you would like to know the common symptoms and how to prevent yourself from having urethritis, do read along
Common symptoms of Urethritis
- Urethral discharge
2. Urethral itching
3. Blood in urine or sperm
4. Painful intercourse or ejaculation
5. Can also have no symptoms and may be detected when a partner goes for STI screening
You should speak to a doctor if you have any symptoms so you can be properly evaluated.
It can range from;
- Urine/Urethral swab microbiology (including gram stain), culture and sensitivity etc
Depending on the type, it can vary from oral medications to intramuscular injections.
What happens if Urethritis is not treated?
- Urethral stricture or stenosis i.e, narrowing of the urethra
2. Epididymitis and/or orchitis i.e, inflammation of the epididymis or testes
3. Prostatitis i.e inflammation of the prostate
4. Periurethral abscess i.e, collection of pus around the urethra
5. Other clinical manifestations of gonorrhoea – eg, conjunctivitis i.e eye infection, skin lesions.
6. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – infection of female partners with the organisms that cause urethritis can cause PID and subsequent complications such as infertility.
7. Increased risk of HIV transmission
Ways to Protect Yourself
- Practice safe sex- make use of condom etc
- To prevent re-infection, avoid sex until after treatment
- Inform sexual partners up to six months to get tested and treated so as to prevent them from transmitting the infection because many females who are infected do not have any symptoms
Urethritis can stay hidden and then manifest as complications, it’s always best to do a sexual health check as soon as you can.