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What is Urethritis?

Urethritis is the medical term for inflammation of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that moves urine from the bladder out of the body. For men, the urethra also transports semen. When the urethra is inflamed through urethritis, urinating and ejaculating can sting and burn.

Is Urethritis a UTI?

Urethritis is a type of UTI, or urinary tract infection. However, UTIs can affect any part of the urinary system, often all at once. You may have a UTI in your kidneys, bladder, ureters, urethra, or any combination of these. Urethritis is an infection confined to the urethra.

Who Gets Urethritis?

Urethritis is a common condition affecting nearly 4 million Americans of all ages and genders every year. However, women tend to get urethritis more than men. The male urethra is much longer, as it has to travel through the length of the penis.

Causes of Urethritis

Urethritis usually occurs when harmful bacteria and viruses on the skin around the urethra’s opening spread and infect this tube. Several different bacteria and viruses can cause urethritis, including:

  • E. coli and other bacteria in feces
  • Gonococcus, the bacteria which causes gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia trachomatis, the bacteria which causes chlamydia
  • Mycoplasma genitalium
  • Trichomonas, a parasite which causes the STI trichomoniasis (trich)
  • The herpes simplex virus
  • The human papillomavirus (HPV)

Types of Urethritis

There are two types of urethritis: gonococcal urethritis and nongonococcal urethritis. The first is caused by gonococcus, which causes gonorrhea. One in five urethritis cases is gonococcal urethritis. All other cases are called nongonococcal urethritis. Depending on what’s inside the urethra, people can have one type of urethritis or the other, or both at the same time.

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