Urethritis is a condition where there is infection of the urethra resulting in inflammation. This term is usually used to describe a urethral inflammation due to a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as nongonococcal urethritis (Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasma hominis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, Trichomonas vaginalis, Mycoplasma genitalium) and gonococcal urethritis (Neisseria gonorrhoeae).
Most patients with urethritis appear well. Testing may include a urinalysis, nucleic acid amplification tests, nucleic acid-based tests, endourethral or endocervical culture, and STD testing. Imaging is generally unnecessary unless there is a possibility of foreign body insertion or trauma. Treatment of urethritis involves the administration of antibiotics that works on gonococcal and nongonococcal urethritis. Some examples are ceftriaxone, azithromycin, cefixime, ofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, and moxifloxacin.
Urethritis is estimated to affect about 4 million Americans with an approximate of 700,000 new cases of gonococcal urethritis and 3 million nongonococcal urethritis annually. However, both infections are underreported. Globally, about 89 million cases of nongonococcal urethritis and 63 million cases of gonococcal urethritis are reported every year. Individuals with urethritis should seek medical attention as it can lead to consequences such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, disseminated gonococcal infection, and reactive arthritis if left untreated.
Symptom #1: Urethral Discharge
Urethral discharge occurs when there is fluid discharge from the urethra (besides semen or urine). It is almost seen exclusively in men. It can also be seen among females, albeit rarely. Urethral discharge usually signifies that there is urethral inflammation due to infection.
When there is an abnormal discharge, a clinical examination should be performed to look at the color of the discharge. It can be brown, green, yellow, or tinged with blood. A culture of the discharge can be used to identify the pathogen causing the urethritis.