In both genders, the urethra works as a tube connecting the urinary bladder to the genitals. The bladder collects and stores urine until it is ready to be discharged through the urethra.

While the function remains the same for both genders, slight differences exist due to differences between male and female genitals. The female urethra is quite a bit shorter than its male counterpart and its opening is situated between a woman's clitoris and vagina. For males, this tube travels the length of the penis and serves a dual purpose; it is a conduit for both urine and semen ejaculation.

Infection is more common in the female urethra. The most common condition is called urethritis, which involves inflammation and painful urination. Causes vary and can include viral or bacterial infections. Symptoms may include frequent, urgent urination and purulent or pus-like excretions and discharges. Treatments depend on the exact causes and symptoms, but most involve differing types of prescription medications.