If you’re having problems with urethral discharge and painful urination, you may be afflicted with urethritis, a condition that can adversely affect your fertility if left untreated. If you don’t get urethritis treated right away, you may end up developing kidney or bladder problems. Or it could affect your prostate or testicles.
In truth, urethritis doesn’t usually lead to complications when treated early. But untreated urethritis may cause blockages in your urethra called strictures, and these can lead to problems with both your reproductive and sexual function. Read on to learn about urethritis and how you can easily manage it.
Sexually transmitted infections are the leading causes of urethritis. When urethritis occurs as a result of an infection with Neisseria gonorrhoeae, then it’s called gonococcal urethritis or GCU. If the urethral inflammation is caused by an infection with a different type of bacteria, then it’s referred to as nongonococcal urethritis or NGU.
Several types of sexually transmitted infections can lead to nongonococcal urethritis. The most common sexually transmitted pathogen that can cause your urethra to become inflamed and swollen include Chlamydia trachomatis, Trichomonas vaginalis, and Mycoplasma genitalium.
Mycoplasma genitalium is also tied to human papillomavirus, human immunodeficiency virus, and herpes simplex. What’s more concerning is that urethritis caused by Mycoplasma genitalium is often resistant to treatment.
Other causes of urethritis include herpes genitalis, adenovirus, syphilis, and mycobacterium. Intermittent use of catheters, foreign body insertion, or use of urethral instrumentation may also result in an infection of the urethra. Contraceptive jellies and spermicidal compounds may also cause swelling and inflammation of the urethra.
There are also instances when boys aged 5 to 15 years develop idiopathic urethritis. This can result in urethral stricture, which may eventually cause fertility or erectile problems if left uncorrected.
If you have NGU, you may be asymptomatic. This means that you may not be aware that your urethra is already infected or inflamed because no symptoms are showing. If it does show symptoms, nongonococcal urethritis may be accompanied by minimal pain or discomfort during urination and a clear discharge.
On the other hand, the symptoms of gonococcal urethritis may abruptly show. These symptoms may include painful urination or dysuria, and you may even see blood in your urine or in your semen. Urethral discharge that contains pus, itchiness in your urethra, and painful ejaculation are also common symptoms of GCU.
Your urethral meatus or the external opening of your urethra may also be swollen, inflamed, tender, and it may even have skin lesions.
Your doctor may prescribe a single-dose antibiotic therapy if he suspects that you have urethritis. Medications for the treatment of urethritis may vary depending on the pathogen that’s causing the infection.
For instance, if your infection is caused by Trichomonas, your doctor may advise you to take either metronidazole or tinidazole. For nongonococcal urethritis, doxycycline and azithromycin are the most commonly prescribed medications. Moxifloxacin may also be used if the inflammation was caused by a Mycoplasma genitalium infection.
When you’re getting yourself treated for urethritis, it’s important that your partner is also treated. Otherwise, your infection will just recur and your urethra will become inflamed again. What’s even worse is that if you keep getting urethritis, scar tissue may form inside your urethra. This can lead to strictures that can block your urine and semen.
Urethritis and Sexual Dysfunction
Urethritis is commonly associated with sexual dysfunction, regardless of whether the inflammation is gonococcal, nongonococcal, or caused by a trauma or injury. Mainly because your semen passes through your urethra when you ejaculate, problems with your urethra usually lead to problems with ejaculation.
There are many ways by which urethritis causes sexual dysfunction in men. For one, you may experience painful ejaculation, especially if the inflammation of your urethra is caused by Chlamydia or Trichomonas.
When you’re infected with either of these two pathogens, you may feel a burning sensation in your urethra when you ejaculate. Moreover, when you have chlamydial urethritis, the infection can spread to your prostate or your testicles. This can then lead to prostatitis, epididymitis, or orchitis.
Urethritis is also associated with acquired premature ejaculation. However, what’s really problematic about urethritis is that the inflammation can cause scar tissue to form inside your urethra and can also affect the nearby tissues such as your corpora cavernosa.
Once the scarring affects the corpora cavernosa, it can lead to more serious problems like urethra stricture. When you have a urethral stricture, it means that a part of your urethra has become blocked or narrowed. The bad news is that urethral strictures are associated with erectile dysfunction and obstructive infertility.
When scar tissue forms in your urethra, your corpora cavernosa may also be affected. Your corpora cavernosa is the part of your penis that becomes filled with blood during an erection. When your corpora cavernosa is structurally damaged because of the scar tissue formation, your erection gets impaired as well.
Moreover, a blockage in your urethra means that there’s something blocking your semen’s path. So when you ejaculate, some of your sperm may not be able to exit your penis due to the scar tissue blocking the way. This can lead to low sperm counts and may eventually cause infertility.
Managing Sexual Dysfunction
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