What Is Urethritis?

Urethritis is inflammation or swelling that occurs in the urethra, the channel that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. This condition causes the urge to urinate increasingly and the patient will feel pain when urinating. Urethritis is a type of sexually transmitted infection.

Causes of Urethritis
The main causes of urethritis or urethral infections are bacteria that enter the urinary tract of the skin around the urethral or urinary tract. In addition, bacteria that cause infection in the kidneys and bladder can also infect the urethra.

Based on the causes of inflammation, urethritis is divided into two types, namely:
  • Gonorrhea urethritis , which is a type of urethritis caused by gonorrhea- causing bacteria ( Neisseria gonorrhoeae ).
  • Non-gonorrhea urethritis , which is a type of urethritis caused by other factors or bacteria. Most non-gonorrhea urethritis is caused by chlamydia bacteria.
Besides bacteria, urethritis can also be caused by other factors, such as:
  • Viruses, namely the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2), HPV virus, and cytomegalovirus .
  • Trichomonas, a parasite that causes trichomoniasis .
  • Injuries that cause interference with the urethra.
  • The skin around the opening of the urethra is sensitive to chemicals, such as spermicides.
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In addition, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of developing urethritis, namely:
  • Female sex.
  • Having sex with multiple partners, without using a condom.
  • Has a history of sexually transmitted infections .

Symptoms of Urethritis
The main symptom of urethritis or urethral infection is pain when urinating. The rest, symptoms in men and women can be different. In men, the symptoms of urethritis include:
  • Heat and burning when urinating.
  • Hematuria .
  • The penis feels itchy, swells, and secretes fluid.
  • Lymph nodes swell in the groin area.
  • Pain when having sexual intercourse or ejaculation.
Meanwhile, the symptoms of urethritis in women include:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Pelvic pain
  • Burning and discomfort when urinating.
  • Dyspareunia .
  • Exit fluid from the vagina (vaginal discharge).

Diagnosis of urethritis
Doctors can suspect a patient has urethritis if symptoms are reinforced by a physical examination. In men, a physical examination is carried out in the area of ​​the stomach, bladder, penis and scrotum. Meanwhile, in women a physical examination is carried out in the area of ​​the abdomen and pelvis. To further ensure the diagnosis, the doctor will perform several types of diagnostic tests, including:
  • Blood tests, including complete blood count and C-reactive protein. Blood tests are also performed to detect the presence of a virus that causes sexually transmitted infections.
  • Urine test (urinalysis) and urine culture, to detect the presence of Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria.
  • Rectal swab or vaginal swab tests to detect viruses or bacteria that cause urethritis.
  • Pregnancy test, especially for women who have unprotected sexual intercourse.
Imaging tests are rarely done in the process of diagnosing urethritis, but pelvic ultrasound is sometimes performed on female patients to check the condition of the urinary tract and reproductive organs.

Treatment of Urethritis
Treatment of urethritis or urethral infections is carried out in order to eliminate the bacteria that causes infection, relieve symptoms experienced by patients, and prevent the spread of infection. The main treatment step for urethritis is through antibiotics. The types of antibiotics that can be given are:
  • Azithromycin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Cefixime
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Doxycycline
  • Erythromycin
  • Levofloxacin
  • Moxifloxacin
  • Ofloxacin
Urethritis caused by trichomonas or trichomoniasis infection can be treated with metronidazole antibiotics. If urethritis is caused by the herpes simplex virus, treatment is done with antiviral drugs, such as:
  • Acyclovir .
  • Famciclovir .
  • Valacyclovir .
If the doctor has difficulty identifying the bacteria that causes urethritis, the doctor will give one or more types of antibiotics to treat the infection that occurs.

Certain treatment procedures are also performed to treat urethritis, namely:
  • Urethral catheterization. The procedure is done by inserting a catheter hose into the bladder through the urethra to excrete urine. This action is done to prevent urine retention and bleeding in the urethra.
  • Cystoscopy. The procedure is done using a cystoscope, which is a tool in the form of an elastic hose equipped with a camera at the end. Cystoscopy allows the doctor to check the condition of the urethra and bladder, and perform surgical removal if a stone or other object is found in the urethra.
  • Catheterization directly into the bladder. The procedure is done by inserting a catheter into the bladder through the lower abdomen, to excrete urine when the urethra is blocked. This action is carried out when the patient's condition is not possible to install a catheter or cystoscope from the urethra

Prevention of urethritis
The main step to prevent urethritis or urethral infection is to undergo safe sex, because the spread of bacterial urethritis can occur through sexual intercourse. In addition, maintaining healthy urinary tract is also important to reduce the risk of urethritis. Some steps that can be taken are:
  • Perform routine health checks, especially the digestive and reproductive organs.
  • Avoid having sex with multiple partners or use condoms every time you have sex.
  • Increase fluid consumption.
  • Try to urinate after sexual intercourse.
  • Avoid or reduce acidic foods.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals that can cause irritation to the urethra, such as detergent.
  • Protect your partner. If you have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, tell your partner or other party at risk of infection.

Urethritis Complications
If urethritis is not immediately treated, the urethra will experience constriction and cause injury. In addition, the infection can also spread to other parts of the urinary tract, such as the ureter, kidney, and bladder.

In men, urethritis can cause several complications, including:
  • Cystitis (bladder infection)
  • Orchitis (testicular infection)
  • Prostatitis (prostate infection)
  • Epididymitis
In women, complications that can occur due to urethritis are:
  • Inflammation of the cervix (cervix).
  • Pelvic inflammation or PID ( pelvic inflammatory disease ).

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