In brief, urethritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the urethra. Urethritis is commonly referred to as non-specific urethritis (NSU) or non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU). Urethritis is mostly diagnosed in men, but it is difficult to be diagnosed in women. This condition is commonly caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis, which is mainly spread through oral, anal, and vaginal sex. Besides being transmitted through the aforementioned ways, urethritis can also result from an instrument such as a urinary catheter, or it may even be the result of exposure to an irritating chemical such as an antiseptic or spermicide.
There are two categories in which most doctors usually classify the sexually transmitted urethritis: gonococcal urethritis and non-gonococcal urethritis. The first one is usually caused by gonorrheal infection, and the latter is caused by other bacteria not including gonorrhea. Non-gonococcal urethritis is the most common sexually transmitted urethritis, possible causes of non-gonococcal urethritis are ureaplasma urealyticum, trichomonas vaginalis, and mycoplasma genitalium. In continuation, urethritis is mainly caused by infectious bacteria that enter the skin around the urethra opening.
Last but not least, it can also be caused by herpes simplex virus and when it comes to the sexually transmitted urethritis infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia they usually confine to the urethra but they may extend to women reproductive organs such as the pelvic which leads to pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID).
In men, the above two infectious urethritis (gonorrhea and chlamydia) may at times cause epididymitis, which is an infection. Ultimately, these two conditions may lead to infertility in both genders.
The symptoms of urethritis include: a burning sensation in the urethra while urinating, itching or burning pain near the opening of the urethra, the presence of some small amount of blood in the semen or in the urine, and awful yellow discharge from the penis.
The above symptoms are only seen in men. Other symptoms involve the urge to urinate more frequently, redness around the opening of the penis, and experiencing difficulties while urinating. It may also cause itching, pain, or discomfort when one is not urinating. Moreover, it can also cause painful sexual intercourse.
In contrast, women with urethritis may experience the following symptoms: the urge to urinate more frequently, discomfort during urination and sharp pain in the abdominal area, high blood temperature, chills, and abnormal discharge from the vaginal area which is usually noticeable in the morning.
Besides urethritis having numerous symptoms, there are people who may have this condition and do not experience any noticeable symptoms. This is mostly experienced by women, but symptoms may also be silent in men if the condition develops as a result of chlamydia or a trichomoniasis infection.
Furthermore, if symptoms and signs don’t show up within 14 to 30 days after getting in contact with an infected person, you might notice a white or cloudy discharge from the penis tip, which is usually noticeable in the morning and it is also usually noticeable with a little massage to the penis. Although symptoms may go unnoticed for lengthy periods of times in some cases, symptoms typically show up after a day or two depending on the cause of the inflammation.
Urethritis Diagnosis and Treatment
In order to diagnose urethritis, most medics ask about individual sexual history, which includes any new partner and condom use during intercourse. He/she may also look for abnormal discharge from the urethra in men, and in women the doctor examines the pelvic area for tenderness, redness, or abnormal discharge from the patient’s cervix and vagina.
In addition, the doctor may order to test the urine taken from the urethra or the vagina for STIs, and if it tests positive for urethritis, the doctor will confirm a potential diagnosis.
Though most tests involve looking for signs of inflammation under a microscope, one is advised not to urinate for at least two hours before having the urine tested.
This makes the test even more accurate. In a situation where the tests do not confirm urethritis, the patient is usually requested not to urinate overnight and come back in the morning for the test.
In terms of treatment, urethritis can be treated using a variety of antibiotics. Though certain bacteria have developed resistance to specific antibiotics, the doctor may prescribe a different antibiotic. All patients under treatment are advised to not have sex until they finish the dose. In addition, most people present both gonorrhea and chlamydia symptoms, thus doctors administer treatment for both. It is for this reason that the doctor may prescribe two types of antibiotics.
In addition to urethritis being treated by antibiotics, it can also be treated by antiviral medication.
Last but not least, some of the common treatments for urethritis includes doxycycline, ofloxacin, tetracycline, and erythromycin. It is also important to avoid reinfection with the same partner, and that’s why both partners should be tested and treated for urethritis. Though blood tests may not be necessary during diagnosis and treatment of urethritis, under certain situations, it might be done for adequate treatment.
In conclusion, urethritis should be treated as soon as it is noticed since it may lead to impotence if it’s not treated in good enough time. In addition to possibly resulting in impotence, it may also lead to pain in the testicles and inflammation commonly known as reactive arthritis. Moreover, at times the reactive arthritis is accompanied by the inflammation of the eyes and the urethra.
In women, long-term urethritis may lead to infertility, blocked Fallopian tubes, ectopic pregnancy, and long-term pelvic pain. Lastly, it is hard for urethritis to go away without adequate treatment, but also remember that treatment depends on its cause.
If you stay for long without getting treated, you will not only risk the above-mentioned condition, but you will also be risking some long-term damage and the possibility of passing the infection to someone else.