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Merck Manual

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Quick Facts



The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Sep 2019| Content last modified Sep 2019
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What is urethritis?

Urethritis is an infection of your urethra, which is the tube attached to your bladder that lets urine flow out of your body.

  • Urethritis is usually caused by bacteria that you get from sex (a sexually transmitted disease)

  • Common symptoms are pain when you urinate (pee) and feeling the need to urinate more often or more strongly

  • Sometimes a fluid comes out of your urethra that is thick and yellowish green, or clear and thin

  • Antibiotics usually treat urethritis

  • If you don’t treat urethritis, you can get bladder or kidney infections or a sore in your urethra

The Urinary Tract

The Urinary Tract

What causes urethritis?

Urethritis is usually caused by:

What are the symptoms of urethritis?

  • Pain or burning when you urinate (pee)

  • Feeling an urgent need to urinate often

  • With gonorrhea, a thick, yellowish-green fluid coming out of your urethra

  • With chlamydia, sometimes a clear, thin fluid coming out of your urethra

If your urethritis isn't treated, scar tissue can form that makes your urethra narrower (this is called a stricture). This narrowing can make it hard to urinate. It can also increase your risk of a bladder infection or kidney infection.

How can doctors tell if I have urethritis?

Your doctor can tell if you have urethritis based on:

  • Tests of your urine or of the fluid coming out of your urethra

How do doctors treat urethritis?

Doctors treat urethritis differently depending on the cause. Usually, they give antibiotics. If you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), your sex partner will also need to be treated. You shouldn't have sex until you and your partner have been successfully treated.

How can I prevent urethritis?

You can prevent urethritis caused by STDs by using a condom during sex.

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