Painful urination is a
broad term that describes discomfort during urination. This pain may originate
in the bladder, urethra, or perineum. The urethra is the tube that carries
urine outside of your body. In men, the area between the scrotum and the anus
is known as the perineum. In women, the perineum is the area between the anus
and the opening of the vagina.
Painful urination is very
common. Pain, burning, or stinging can indicate a number of medical conditions.
What causes painful urination?
Painful urination is a
common sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI can be the result of a
bacterial infection. It can also be due to inflammation of the urinary tract.
The urethra, bladder,
ureters, and kidneys make up your urinary tract. The ureters are tubes that carry
urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Inflammation in any of these organs can
cause pain during urination.
According to the Mayo Clinic, women are more likely to develop urinary tract infections than men.
This is because the urethra is shorter in women than it is in men. A shorter
urethra means that bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to reach the
bladder. Women who are pregnant or menopausal also have an increased risk of
developing urinary tract infections.
Other medical conditions
can cause painful urination in men and women.
Men may experience painful
urination due to prostatitis. This condition is the inflammation of the
prostate gland. It’s a primary cause of urinary burning, stinging, and
You may also experience
pain when urinating if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Some
STIs that may cause painful urination include genital herpes, gonorrhea, and
chlamydia. It’s important to be screened for these infections, especially because they don't always have symptoms. Certain sexual practices will put you at a higher risk for STIs, such as having sex without a condom, or sex with multiple partners. Anyone who is sexually active should get tested for STIs.
Another cause of painful
urination is cystitis, or
the inflammation of the bladder’s lining. Interstitial cystitis (IC) is also
known as painful bladder syndrome. It’s the most common type of cystitis.
Symptoms of IC include
pain and tenderness in the bladder and pelvic region. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and
Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), doctors don’t
know what causes IC.
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
urination isn’t due to an infection. It can also be due to products that you
use in 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.
What are the treatment options for painful
Your doctor may prescribe
medication to treat painful urination.
Antibiotics can treat
UTIs, bacterial prostatitis, and some sexually transmitted infections. Your doctor
may also give you medication to calm your irritated bladder. Drugs used to
treat IC include tricyclic antidepressants, pentosan polysulfate sodium (elmiron),
and acetaminophen (Tylenol) with codeine.
Painful urination due to a
bacterial infection usually improves fairly quickly after you start taking
medication. Always take the medication exactly as your doctor prescribes for
the best results.
Pain associated with
interstitial cystitis may be more challenging to treat. Results from drug
therapy may be slower. You may have to take medication for up to four months
before you start to feel better.
How can I prevent painful urination?
There are changes you can
make to your lifestyle to help relieve your symptoms. Steer clear of scented
laundry detergents and toiletries to reduce your risk of irritation. Use
condoms during sexual activity to keep yourself safe from STIs. Modify your
diet to eliminate food and drinks that irritate the bladder.
The NIDDK notes that there’s
some evidence to suggest certain foods are more likely to irritate your
bladder. Some irritants to avoid include alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, citrus
fruits and juices, tomato products, and artificial sweeteners.
You should also avoid
highly acidic foods to help your bladder heal. Try to stick with a bland diet
for several weeks while you’re receiving medical treatment.