• Definition

    Urethritis is swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the body.

    Alternative Names

    Urethral syndrome; NGU; Non-gonococcal urethritis

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Urethritis may be caused by bacteria or a virus. The same bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (E. coli) and some sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia, gonorrhea) can lead to urethritis. Viral causes of urethritis include herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus.

    Other causes include:

    • Injury
    • Sensitivity to the chemicals used in spermicides or contraceptive jellies, creams, or foams

    Risks for urethritis include:

    • Being a female in the reproductive years
    • Being male, ages 20 - 35
    • Having many sexual partners
    • High-risk sexual behavior (such as anal sex without a condom)
    • History of sexually transmitted diseases