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There are 27 possible causes of painful urination

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What Is Painful Urination?

Painful urination is a broad term that is used to describe discomfort during urination. This pain may be caused by your:

  • bladder
  • urethra (the tube that carries urine outside your body)
  • perineum (in men, the area between the scrotum and the anus and in women, the area between the anus and the opening of the vagina)

Painful urination is very common. The pain, burning, or stinging can indicate a number of medical conditions.

Painful Urination Due to Urinary Tract Infections

Painful urination is a common sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs can be caused by bacterial infection or inflammation of the urinary tract.

Your urinary tract is made up of the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. The ureters are tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Inflammation in any of these organs can cause pain during urination.

Women and girls are more likely to develop urinary tract infections than men or boys. This is because the urethra is shorter in women than it is in men, and bacteria are more likely to live in a shorter urethra.

According to the National Institutes of Health, women who are pregnant or menopausal also have an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections (NIH).

Other Causes of Painful Urination

Other medical conditions can cause painful urination in men and women.

In men, prostatitis—or the inflammation of the prostate gland—is a primary cause of urinary burning, stinging, and discomfort.

You may also experience pain when urinating if you have a sexually transmitted infection, such as genital herpes, gonorrhea, or chlamydia. It’s important to get screened for these infections if you are experiencing pain and have participated in risky sexual activities, such as having sex without a condom or with multiple partners.

Another cause of painful urination is cystitis, or the inflammation of the bladder’s lining. Interstitial cystitis (IC)—also known as painful bladder syndrome—is the most common type of cystitis.

Symptoms of IC include pain and tenderness in the bladder and pelvic region. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Disease Information Clearinghouse, doctors do not know what causes IC (NKUDIC).

In some cases, radiation therapy can cause bladder and urinary pain. This condition is known as radiation cystitis.

You may have difficulty urinating comfortably if you have kidney stones. Kidney stones are masses of hardened material located in the kidneys.

Sometimes, painful urination is not caused by an infection, but rather by products that are used on the genital regions. Soaps, lotions, and bubble baths can irritate vaginal tissues. Dyes in laundry detergents and other toiletry products can also cause irritation and lead to painful urination in those that are sensitive to them.

Medical Treatment for Painful Urination

In some cases, your doctor will prescribe medication to treat painful urination.

Antibiotics can treat UTIs, bacterial prostatitis, and treatable sexually transmitted infections. Your healthcare provider may also give you medication to calm your irritated bladder. Drugs used to treat IC include:

  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • pentosan polysulfate sodium(elmiron)
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol) with codeine

Once treatment is started, painful urination that is caused by bacterial infections usually improves fairly quickly. You should always take the medication exactly as your doctor prescribes in order to have the best results and fully recover.

Pain associated with interstitial cystitis may be more challenging to treat. Results from drug therapy may be slower. In some instances, you may have to take medication for up to four months before you start to feel better.

Lifestyle Adjustments to Relieve Painful Urination

There are changes you can make in your lifestyle to eliminate episodes of painful urination. Some simple ones are to:

  • steer clear of scented laundry detergents and toiletries to reduce your risk of irritation
  • use condoms during sexual activity to keep yourself safe from sexually transmitted infections
  • modify your diet to eliminate food and drinks that irritate the bladder

According to the NKUDIC, anecdotal evidence suggests that certain foods are more likely to irritate your bladder than others (NKUDIC). Some irritants to avoid include:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • spicy foods
  • citrus fruits and juices
  • tomato products
  • artificial sweeteners

If you suffer from pain during urination, you should also avoid highly acidic foods in order to help your bladder heal. Try to stick with a bland diet for several weeks while you are receiving medical treatment.

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Possible Causes - Listed in order from the most common to the least.

1

Urinary Tract Infection

UTIs are usually caused by bacteria and can occur in any part of the urinary tract. Symptoms of upper UTIs include pain in the upper back, chills, fever, and nausea.

Read more »

2

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are solid masses of crystalized calcium or other substances that originate in the kidneys but can pass through the urinary tract. The greatest risk factor is making less than one liter of urine per day.

Read more »

3

Vulvovaginitis

Volvovaginitis is a common infection of the vulva and vagina. Symptoms may include itching, discomfort while urinating, or increased vaginal dischrge.

Read more »

4

Bladder Infection

A bladder infection is a bacterial infection. It also may be called a urinary tract infection (UTI), which refers to infection anywhere in the urinary tract, including the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra.

Read more »

5

Postmenopausal Atrophic Vaginitis

Postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis normally occurs after menopause. The condition can lead to increased vaginal infections and may make sexual intercourse painful.

Read more »

6

Urethritis

Urethritis is an infection of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder and semen out of the body. Symptoms include burning while urinating, abdominal pain, and discharge.

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7

Prostatitis

Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland, which produces a fluid found in semen. The inflammation may spread to the area around the prostate. Causes include bladder infection, STDs, and injuries to the prostate.

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8

Vaginal Yeast Infection

A vaginal yeast infection is a common female condition caused by the fungus candida. Symptoms include intense itching, swelling, and irritation.

Read more »

9

Epididymitis

Epididymitis is inflammation of the epididymis, the tube located at the back of the testicles that stores and carries sperm. It's usually caused by a bacterial or sexually transmitted infection.

Read more »

10

Pyelonephritis

Pyelonephritis is a sudden and severe kidney infection. This condition causes the kidneys to swell, can permanently damage the kidneys, and can even be life threatening. It is important to recognize the symptoms so yo...

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11

Chronic Nonbacterial Prostatitis

Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the prostate (gland located directly below the bladder) and the lower urinary tract in men. It is a common condition, especially i...

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12

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the reproductive organs in women. The pelvis is located in the lower abdomen and includes the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, the cervix, and the uterus. According t...

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13

Obstructive Uropathy

Obstructive uropathy is a condition in which your urine flow reverses direction. Instead of flowing from the kidneys to the bladder, the urine "refluxes" back into the kidneys. Reflux literally means "a flowing back o...

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14

Chlamydia Infection

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that should be treated quickly in order to avoid complications. It is caused by bacteria that are usually spread through sexual contact. People with chlamydia often don't hav...

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15

Orchitis

Orchitis is the inflammation of the testicles. It can be caused by either bacterial or viral infection. Both testicles may be affected by orchitis at the same time. However, symptoms are restricted to just one testicl...

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16

Urethral Stricture

Urethral stricture is a medical condition that mainly affects men. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), very few women get urethral strictures. In addition, very few individuals are born with thi...

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17

Reactive Arthritis (Reiter's Syndrome)

Reiter's syndrome, also known as reactive arthritis or post-infectious arthritis, produces inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joints due to infection elsewhere in the body. Other parts of the body may also b...

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18

Benign Enlargement of Prostate

Benign enlargement of the prostate is a common condition in which your prostate gland swells beyond normal size. It is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. If you have this disorder, keep in mind that it i...

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19

Transitional Cell Cancer (Malignant Neoplasm of Ureter)

The tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder is known as the ureter . Most healthy people have two kidneys and, therefor, two ureters. The top of each ureter is found in the middle of the kidney in an area known a...

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20

Prostate Cancer Overview

Learn prostate cancer information, causes, symptoms and treatments.

Read more »

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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