The function of the urethra is to pass urine out of the body. In men, the urethra is a long tube found in the penis. In women, it is a short tube that runs above the vagina. Both men and women experience urethra problems caused by factors such as injuries, infections, illnesses, or aging. Symptoms of urethral disorders include pain, itchiness, bleeding, discharge from the urinal bladder, pain when urinating, among other symptoms. There are various ways you can prevent urethra infections. These include drinking a lot of water to flush out your bladder, wipe from front to back, and practicing safe sex.
Types of urinary diseases
Urethral stricture is a condition characterized by the narrowing of the urethra, which makes it difficult for urine to flow, causing urine retention. Someone suffering from urethral stricture will find it difficult to hold urine and may experience pain during urination. It is caused by inflammation or the development of scar tissue. Scar tissue may form as a result of a penis, scrotum, or straddle injury. Another cause is sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). A person may also get a scar tissue during surgery or urethra and bladder examination procedures where doctors use instruments such as catheters.
A doctor will measure the rate of flow of your urine and urine retention. If an anomaly is suspected, the doctor will perform other procedures such as an x-ray and cystoscopy and recommend appropriate treatment depending on the length of the stricture.
Urethritis is the inflammation of the urethra caused by bacteria and viruses. Bacteria enter the urethra via the skin around its opening. These bacteria can come from the stool and sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Moreover, the herpes simplex virus can also be a cause of urethritis. The main symptom of urethritis is pain during urination. Apart from pain, other symptoms will include frequently having the urge to urinate, itching and pain when you are not urinating, and difficulty in starting to urinate. There could also be pain during sex, urethral or vaginal discharge, and blood in semen and urine for men.
A doctor will conduct a physical exam, urine test, and examine your discharge to determine if you have urethritis. In case the disease is present, the doctors will administer antibiotics depending on the kind of organism that is causing the infection. If a doctor cannot identify the organism, they will give you a combination of drugs likely to get rid of the organism present.
Cancer of the urethra happens when cells form in the urethra tissues. Although it is rare for cancer, it is more common in women than in men. Types of urethral cancer include squamous cell carcinoma, transitional cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. Several factors can increase the risk of urethral cancer, including frequent urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, bladder cancer history, and being 60 years and above.
Signs of urethral cancer to watch out for are difficulty starting to urinate, an unsteady flow of urine, frequent urination, incontinence, urethral bleeding, and a painless lump in the penis or groin.
A doctor will perform physical tests for lumps and check your general health to determine if you have the disease. Other tests include urine tests, pelvic exam, and biopsy; where the doctor takes tissue or cell samples from the urethra and examines them under a microscope for signs of cancer. There will also be tests to check whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body. These include CT scans and x-rays.
Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Alternative treatments include active surveillance and clinical trials. Active surveillance is where a doctor will regularly examine you through exams and tests without administering treatment unless the condition begins to change. With the patient’s consent, doctors can perform a clinical trial as part of the treatment. Clinical trials are tests of the effectiveness of new treatment methods.
Whenever you experience any symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention. If you have a sexual partner, they should get checked and treated too, since urethra diseases are also sexually transmitted. The treatment of both sexually active partners helps to prevent re-infection.