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The urethra is the tube that drains urine from the bladder. In men, the urethra is a long tube inside of the penis. In women, it’s shorter and located inside of the pelvis. Pain in the urethra may be dull or sharp, constant or intermittent, meaning it comes and goes. New onset of pain is called acute. When the pain continues for a long time, it’s chronic.
Problems in the urethra can occur due to:
Irritation may temporarily cause pain in the urethra. Sources of irritation include:
In most cases, avoiding irritants will alleviate the pain.
Pain in the urethra can also be a symptom of a wide variety of underlying medical conditions, including:
You’ll need to describe your pain accurately to help your doctor diagnose the cause of your pain. Symptoms that can accompany pain in the urethra include:
You should seek medical attention if you experience one or more of these symptoms along with pain in your urethra.
Your doctor may order a variety of diagnostic tests. In most cases, treatment resolves the pain once the doctor makes an accurate diagnosis and treats the cause.
You’ll need a complete history and physical. Your doctor will need to palpate, or feel, your abdomen for tenderness. If you’re a female, a pelvic exam may be necessary. It’s likely that your doctor will also order a urinalysis and urine culture.
Depending on your symptoms and the results of your physical exam, additional tests and imaging studies may help your doctor reach a diagnosis. They include:
Treatment depends on the cause of your pain. If the cause is an infection, you may need a course of antibiotics. Drinking plenty of fluids and frequent urination may shorten how long you need to recover. Other medications may include:
If an irritant is causing your pain, your doctor will tell you to avoid it in the future. Surgery can be an effective treatment for narrowing of the urethra.
Treatment of the cause usually results in pain relief.
Written by: The Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Jun 29, 2016: Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D, MSN, RN, CRNA
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