Urethritis is irritation of the urethra, which connects the bladder to the outside skin. The irritation can have several difference causes, such as trauma after a catheterization, allergic reactions, and autoimmune disease, but the most common cause is infection.
The female urethra is more exposed to infection than the male, so women commonly have urethritis due to a bladder or yeast infection unrelated to sexually transmitted diseases. However, urethritis in a man is very often due to an infection with gonorrhea or chlamydia. Infection may be associated with urethral discharge and scrotal or abdominal pain
. It is easily treated with antibiotics, often requiring only one dose.
Urethritis should be evaluated by a physician, who will do a thorough history and examination to determine the cause, send cultures if necessary, and provide appropriate treatment. Patients who have a sexually transmitted disease should inform their partners of exposure and be tested for other STDs such as HIV and syphilis. Condoms should be used during every sexual encounter to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted disease.