Synonyms: Urethral syndrome

Medical Specialties: Internal medicine, Obstetrics/gynecology, Urology

Clinical Definition

Urethritis is inflammation and swelling of the urethra, a tube that transports urine from the bladder to outside the body. In men, the urethra carries urine from the bladder to the penis to void urine. In women, the urethra's opening is in front of the vagina. The urethra can become inflamed due to irritation, sexually transmitted infections, like gonorrhea, and other triggers.

In Our Own Words

People with the inflammatory condition, urethritis, will experience burning, stinging or pain when they urinate. Inflammation or irritation of the urine-carrying tube, known as the urethra, causes these symptoms. The most common cause of urethritis is a sexually transmitted disease – chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis can all cause urethritis – but there are many other potential causes as well. Injury or sensitivity to contraceptive products, for instance, can also cause this common condition.

Relevant Conditions
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Chemical sensitivity
  • Reiter’s syndrome
Common Types
  • No-gonococcal urethritis (NGU)
  • Nonspecific urethritis (NSU)
  • Chemical irritation (from spermicide, for instance)
Side Effects
  • Burning pain when urinating
  • Discharge from penis or vagina
  • Frequent or urgent urination
Share this article
  • Harvard Medical School. "Medical Dictionary of Health Terms." 2013. http://www.health.harvard.edu. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Urethral stricture." May 2013. http://umm.edu. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Urethritis." May 2013. http://umm.edu. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • The Cleveland Clinic. "Nongonococcal Urethritis in Men." Jan. 2010. http://my.clevelandclinic.org. Accessed Aug. 2013.
Keep Reading

Investigate your bodys signs and signals.
Try Symptom Checker