The urethra is an arrow fibromuscular tube that connects the urinary bladder to the urinary meatus(it is an external urethral orifice from where the urine exits the urethra in males and in females) in order to provide an exit for the urine for males and females. In females the urethra joins the urinary meatus to provide an opening just in front of the vagina. The male urethra carries urine and semen from the urinary bladder and the ejaculatory ducts to the external urethral orifice  located at the tip of the glans penis. The female urethra is shorter in comparison to males. Its major role is to serve as a passage for the urine to leave the body. The muscles on the urethra and bladder relax to allow forceful expulsion of urine in a pressurized steam while urinating.

In males the urethra is a part of the urinary system as well the reproductive system hence the urethra is long and runs the length of the penis.

Common problems:

Urethral stricture: the urethra tube at times becomes narrow or blocked affecting the urine flow out. It may be congenital or can develop due to an injury or infection. It can affect both genders.

Urethral cancer: Although rare can spread fast to neighbouring structures. Old age, chronic urethral infections due to a urinary tract infections(UTI) or sexually transmitted diseases(STDs) are risk factors.

Urethral Caruncle: is a condition in which a mass is found in the urethra usually post menopause. It doesn’t cause have any symptoms although females may notice pain while urinating and bleeding. 

Urethral syndrome- is a condition that mimics UTI without any evident cause. the main symptom is chronic pain in pelvis and urinary tract.

Urethritis- it is the inflammation of the tube that carries the urine from the bladder to the external urethral is usually caused due to bacterial infection. The symptoms apart from pain are

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Frequently asked questions about Urethra

What is the urethra?

The urethra is a thin, fibromuscular tube that begins at the lower end of the bladder to the urinary meatus the outside of the body.

What are the functions of urethra?

The primary function of the urethra is to transport urine from the bladder to external urethral orifice to empty the bladder.

What are the Causes of Urethral pain?

In both men and women, common causes of urethral pain include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), urinary tract infections (UTIs), urethritis(inflammation of the urethra), urethral syndrome(discomfort in the tube carrying urine outside the body), urethral cancer, urethral carbuncle(mass in the urethra usually in menopausal females), prostatitis(in men as the urethra passes through the prostate).

What other symptoms occur along with urethral pain?

Symptoms that can accompany pain in the urethra include:

  • Itching
  • Inability to urinate
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Unusual discharge
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • fever and chills
What diagnostic tests are done for urethritis?

Tests for urethritis are:

  • Physical examination, 
  • Urine tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia, or other bacteria.
  • Examination of any discharge under a microscope.
  • vaginal culture 
  • cystoscopy
  • nucleic acid amplification test for bacterias
What are the treatment options for urethritis?

Treatment for urethritis involves antibiotics.

What diseases affect urethra?

The diseases that affect Urethra are as below:

  • Urethral cancer - a rare cancer that happens more often in men.
  • Urethral stricture - narrowing of the urethral opening.
  • Urethritis - inflammation of the urethra, sometimes caused by infection.
  • Urethral carbuncle-mass formation in the urethra
What is a urethral stricture?

Urethral stricture is a narrowing or blocking of the urethra leaving no path for the urine to leave the body. Men with stricture have increasing discomfort while urinating and a slowing of the urinary stream.This develops gradually and leads to pushing or straining to get urine out. 

What are the causes of urethral stricture?

Urethral stricture is the blocking or narrowing of the urethra. The most common causes are either chronic inflammation or injury. Scar tissue can gradually form:

  • An injury to the penis or scrotum or a straddle injury(fall wherein the legs are on the either side) to the scrotum or perineum.
  • infection, most often sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia.
  • Catheters or instruments placed into the urethra during surgery or procedures.

How long does a urethral infection last?

The infection symptoms usually settle within a day or two after starting the treatment. In case of a kidney infection the symptoms take a little longer to get better.

What doctor to see for urethra pain?

Urologists treat diseases and conditions in the kidneys, bladder, urinary tract and male reproductive system.

What is Urethritis?

Urethra it is inflammation of the urethra. It occurs mainly due to bacterial infection and antibiotics will help cure the patient.Urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. Pain with urination is the main symptom.

Can the urethra heal itself?

The urethral tears rarely heal without surgery. The treatment will help avoid some complication.

Can a urethra be replaced?

Depending on the exact location and the extent of damage, the urethra will be repaired by either replacing the issue with tissue from another part of the body, or by taking out the damaged portion of the urethra and then reconnecting the urethral tube.

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Symptoms in men are:

  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Itching or burning near the opening of the penis
  • Blood in the semen or urine
  • Painful ejaculation

Symptoms in women:

  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Discomfort during urination
  • Burning or irritation at the urethral opening
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Fever and chills

Treatment consist of medications and NSAIDS to relieve pain.

  • Treatment for urethral cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, chemotherapy, active surveillance.
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