What is Urethritis?
Urethritis is a condition where the urethra, which carries urine out of the body, becomes irritated or inflamed. The name sounds a lot like a combination of “urethra” and “arthritis”, which could be one way of looking at the condition since arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. Urethritis can cause pain during urination as well an increase in the need to urinate.
It’s important to keep in mind that urethritis is not the same things as a urinary tract infection or UTI. Urethritis directly affects the urethra while urinary tract infections affect the urinary tract as the name suggests. With that said, the symptoms do tend to be very similar but the treatments will differ greatly, depending on what specifically caused the urethritis condition.
People of all ages can develop urethritis. Both men and women have a chance of developing it although women do have a much greater chance of being affected. This is due to the fact that a woman’s urethra is only around one and a half inches long while a man’s urethra is much longer. It is much easier for bacteria to enter and stay within the urethra of a woman due to its smaller size.
Urethritis is actually a very common condition and it has been shown to affect around four million people in the United States every year. Of those cases, nongonococcal urethritis made up the majority of them. Because it is easy to confuse with a urinary tract infection, however, many people might go untreated. If you experience any symptoms, it is important to speak with your doctor immediately to identify the underlying issue correctly.
Symptoms include burning or discomfort during urination, itching or burning sensations around the openings of the genitals, blood in the urine (or semen), abnormal discharge, and an increased need to urinate.
Types of Urethritis
There are actually two different types of urethritis, depending on how the inflamed condition was caused: gonococcal urethritis or nongonococcal urethritis. As mentioned previously, nongonococcal urethritis makes up the majority of urethritis cases in the United States.
Nongonococcal urethritis is caused by an infection that isn’t gonorrhea while gonococcal urethritis is caused by the bacteria that also causes gonorrhea, which is an STI. Chlamydia, an STI, frequently causes nongonococcal urethritis.
With that said, there are still other potential causes of urethritis. Sometimes the causes may not even be related to an infection or STI at all. For example, urethritis could also be caused by some sort of genital trauma, such as an injury caused by a catheter. It’s also possible for there to be multiple causes and therefore multiple types of urethritis at once, which is common in women who develop the condition.
Causes of Urethritis
Urethritis is typically developed following a bacterial or viral infection although bacterial infections are the most common. These might include bacteria that cause kidney or bladder infections as they could also enter and infect the urethra.
There is also a chance that the natural bacteria of the genitals could enter the urinary tract and cause urethritis as well. Overall, the most common bacteria that may cause urethritis include Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, and Mycoplasma genitalium.
Generally speaking, it is very common for sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, to cause urethritis. The pathogens, or illness-causing biological agents, that cause STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis, may also contribute to the development of urethritis. Viruses could also contribute to urethritis, including cytomegalovirus (CMV), the herpes simplex virus (HSV), and the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Because most of the causes of urethritis are due to sexually transmitted infections and bacteria, safe sex practices make up a lot of the practices for preventing the development of urethritis. For example, use condoms and avoid having sex with multiple people. You should also get tested regularly to check for STIs and notify your partner or partners immediately if you test positive for any type of sexually transmitted infection.
Otherwise, you should always drink lots of fluids, urinate after having intercourse, avoid spermicides, avoid scented soaps or other products around the genitals, avoid caffeine and artificial sweeteners, avoid alcohol, and avoid eating acidic foods.
Medicinal Treatments for Urethritis
Urethritis is typically treated with antibiotics or some kind of antiviral medication. The potential antibiotics might include azithromycin, doxycycline, erythromycin, ofloxacin, or levofloxacin. The dosages for each of these will depend on the specific antibiotic but they typically aren’t taken for more than seven days. It’s possible that the condition will be improved after only a couple of days but the full cycle of treatment should still be continued and completed to ensure that the infection does not become worse.
Ways to Treat Urethritis without Antibiotics
Although you should definitely speak with a doctor about treatments for your urethritis, there may be some home remedies you could follow to alleviate your symptoms.
For example, many people have said that drinking cranberry juice is a good way to improve urinary health because cranberries have high levels of proanthocyanidins (PACs). (1)
However, processed cranberry juice actually doesn’t have high enough levels of these PACs to make a difference in the urinary system. Instead, cranberry capsules would give you the level of PACs necessary to treat bacteria that may be present in the urinary system.
There are also many other natural substances that could help treat or alleviate the symptoms of urethritis. For example, cat’s claw is an herb that is known to have powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties; the herb could help boost the immune system and help the body overcome urethritis more quickly. (2)
Green tea is another provider of a healthy boost to the immune system as well as being a powerful antioxidant. Drinking a few cups of this tea could help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by urethritis while also neutralizing the infection. (3)
Juniper berries are another potential home remedy for painful urethral conditions like urethritis. These berries can help because of their ability to boost the immune system and their anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe painful irritation. (4) Consuming juniper berries can also help prevent infection spreading into other areas of the urinary tract and reproductive system.
You can also use certain essential oils to treat the painful symptoms linked to urethritis and other urinary tract infections. Many essential oils contain excellent anti-inflammatory and pain killing properties that work very well on the condition.
Some of the best choices are geranium, fennel, juniper, ginger and lemon essential oils. Simply dilute your chosen essential oil with a suitable carrier oil and massage the mixture into your abdomen. This will help to relieve any pain you are suffering while it can also help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
A good quality multivitamin can help you to stay healthy in general and may help you naturally overcome the pain and reduce the inflammation linked to urethritis.
While a multivitamin provides the best all-round benefits there are other supplements that can help treat the condition. These include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin B6 and minerals like magnesium.
If you are suffering from urethritis or any other urinary tract infection, it is very important to keep your body properly hydrated. Drinking enough water throughout the day will help you urinate more comfortably and also help flush any infection from your system more effectively speeding up your recovery.
As well as water, herbal teas are an excellent choice but you should avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol since they contribute to dehydration.
A sitz bath is a very simple and effective home remedy for urethritis. Taking a regular sitz bath can relieve the burning sensation associated with the condition and make you feel more comfortable.
Simply fill your tub with enough warm water to completely cover the genital region then sit down in your tub. Do not use any soap or other potential irritant since this could make your symptoms worse. Take one or two sitz baths a day and you should feel more comfortable in no time.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
As we have already mentioned, it is important to keep your body well-hydrated and this is even more important when you are trying to fight a urinary infection like urethritis.
Caffeine and alcoholic drinks have the opposite effect. They can lead to dehydration while they may also increase inflammation and have a negative effect on the immune system.
If you are going to have sexual intercourse while suffering from urethritis, it is very important that you protect yourself and your partner by using a condom. Condoms prevent the majority of STDs and protect your partner from infection. They also make intercourse less painful if you have urethritis.
Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatories
While it is not strictly speaking a natural remedy, using an NSAID available over the counter is an excellent way to reduce the symptoms of urethritis without using an antibiotic. NSAIDs can help reduce inflammation effectively and quickly and are a cheap and easy way of managing the condition. Be sure to follow the instructions from your pharmacist to reduce the risk of any adverse side effects.
Why Treat Urethritis?
Overall, urethritis can be painful and a bit of an inconvenience but treating it quickly will leave you with nothing to worry about. With that said, there may be other factors involved if you have developed urethritis as the condition is commonly caused by the presence of sexually transmitted infections. It is important to speak with your doctor to identify any other conditions or infections that may be present in your body.
If you leave urethritis untreated, however, there could be serious and lasting consequences involved. The infection could spread to other parts of the body including the kidneys, bladder, or ureters.
These infections can also be treated and recovered from but they may cause severe damage to the organs if untreated or ignored for too long. There is also a risk of the infection spreading into the bloodstream and causing sepsis, which could result in death.
The side effects of sexually transmitted infections are also something to consider. These infections could cause significant damage to the reproductive systems. For example, women could develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) as a result, which is very painful and could lead to infertility. If sexually transmitted infections are left untreated and ignored, women may also be at an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies, which could be deadly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can urethritis go away on its own?
It is possible for urethritis to go away of its own accord but it is recommended that you consult your doctor. When left untreated, urethritis can lead to worse problems including a urethral blockage. Untreated infections may cause scar tissues to form and build up within the urethra.
How long does it take for urethritis to go away?
If you take antibiotics, urethritis will actually improve very quickly and the symptoms should clear within a week. If left untreated, the symptoms may go away after a few months but people will remain infectious and could spread their infection to other people despite not having symptoms.
What is the best home treatment for urethritis?
Most people have heard that cranberry juice can treat urinary tract infections. The reason for this is that cranberries contain PACs which can change the way bacteria interacts in the urinary tract. Unfortunately, cranberry juice does not contain these PACs in sufficiently high levels to crate these changes.
If you want to use cranberry to treat urethritis, you will need to buy cranberry extract in supplementary capsule form. Other potential home remedies include herbal teas and juniper berries. Make sure you stay well-hydrated and eliminate caffeine and alcohol from your diet.
Is urethritis always caused by an STD?
Urethritis is not always caused by an STD. It can be caused by a variety of bacteria or viruses including E. coli. However other bacteria responsible for urethritis are also responsible for sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Overall, urethritis can be a serious condition but getting it treated quickly will save you from the negative side effects. Because of this, it’s essential that you speak with a doctor immediately if you show any symptoms of a urinary infection.
A doctor will likely prescribe you antibiotics immediately after determining the cause of the infection. Of course, treatment will differ depending on any underlying conditions and how the urethritis was developed.
While there are certainly many natural alternatives to antibiotics that could help treat and alleviate the painful symptoms of urethritis, it is important that you follow the advice of your doctor. Because urethritis is often linked to more serious and lasting infections, simply using a few home remedies by yourself may not be enough. Speaking with a doctor and following his or her advice is the best way to make sure that your body stays healthy and that all conditions are properly addressed.
In the end, the most important thing is that you stay conscious and aware of your body. Following safe sex practices and avoiding unhealthy foods and beverage may help prevent the development of conditions such as urethritis but sometimes there is not much that you can do to prevent other causes.
For example, genital trauma from a catheter isn’t easy to prevent by staying healthy. By staying aware of the things you are feeling and consistently speaking with your doctor, you can avoid the negative consequences and side effects and keep your body healthy.
- If you have urethritis, it is important to speak with your doctor because when left untreated, the condition can cause further complications.
- Your doctor will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics which will clear the infection in a short time.
- It is not recommended that you only use home remedies but certain home remedies can ease the symptoms in combination with antibiotics.
- Cranberry extract capsules, essential oils and sitz baths can all help relieve the pain of urethritis.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine and make sure you stay well-hydrated with water and herbal teas.