Urethritis is irritation or infection of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that empties urine from the bladder. A woman's urethra is short (about 1 and 1/2 inches long). Its opening is just above the vagina and not far from the anus (rectal area). This means it is easy for bacteria to enter a woman’s urethra from these areas.
Urethritis may be caused by an infection. Yeast infections and sexually transmitted diseases or infections (also called an STD or STI), such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, are common causes.
Urethritis may also be caused by irritation of the genital area from:
Lack of the female hormone estrogen causes the tissues of the urethra and bladder to get thinner and drier after menopause. This is a common cause of urethritis in older women.
Symptoms may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. Your provider may swab the urethral area and cervix to test for bacteria in the lab. A sample of your urine may be tested for infection.
Your healthcare provider will likely prescribe antibiotics if your symptoms are caused by bacteria. Symptoms caused by an infection should stop within a few days after you start taking antibiotics. Take antibiotics for as long as your healthcare provider prescribes, even if you feel better. If you stop taking the medicine too soon, you may not kill all of the bacteria and you may get sick again.
If your symptoms are caused by an STD or STI, treating the infection should help. Your recent sexual partners should also be treated.
Your provider may prescribe another medicine to help relieve burning with urination and discomfort in the bladder.