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Some Causes and Symptoms of Urethritis in Women

By Jody Smith HERWriter
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Urethritis is any inflammation of the urethra, most commonly a result of bacteria causing a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Viruses are a less likely cause. Those that can cause urethritis are most often the herpes simplex virus, and the cytomegalovirus.

There are other ways of ending up with urethritis. Some soaps or body powders, and spermicides can do it, as can vaginal infections. Tight clothes, sexual activity, even prolonged bike-riding can trigger a bout of urethritis.

What makes women so vulnerable to such seemingly trivial hazards?

Our biology plays a role. A female urethra (the tube from the bladder to outside the body) is shorter than a male's. It opens just above the vagina and not far from the anus. This area can be fertile for bacteria.

It's a short trip from the vagina or the anus to the relatively unprotected urethra. Sometimes all it takes is friction in this area, and a case of urethritis is on the scene.

Some contraceptives and tampons may encourage multiplication of certain bacteria which then enter the urethra. Some gynecological disorders alter the flora of the vagina, causing urethritis.

Catheterization can lead to posttraumatic urethritis, especially from latex catheters rather than silicone catheters.

For older women, the urethra and bladder change after menopause due to a drop in estrogen (female sex hormone). Their tissues are more fragile, becoming thinner and drier.

Less common bacterial causes of urethritis are syphilis and mycobacterial infection. Viral infections like herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus are also uncommon, as are streptococcal, and meningococcal infections.

Urination may be frequent and urgent, yet yielding little in the way of results. Pelvic or abdominal pain, and pain or itching upon urinating, may be experienced.

There may be a vaginal discharge, or a urethral discharge which is green, yellow, brown or blood-tinged. Intercourse may be painful. Menses (menstrual period) may make symptoms more intense. Fever and chills are not common, but may be present.

Urethritis is a condition to take seriously.

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I have no infection but still have symptoms. The green discharge is sticky and it all stinks. I am post-menopausal and no longer having sex. This is terribly painful and causing me stress!

September 7, 2015 - 1:57pm
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon

Thank you for contacting us and I'm sorry to know you are in such discomfort. 

I would like to suggest that you get re-tested.  If you urinated close to when the test was taken, you may not have had an accurate result.  In fact, you may have to avoid going to the bathroom over night. 

Even if you are no longer having sex, it's possible to have had the infection before and have symptoms later. 

Have you been tested for all STD's/STI's? 

We hope to hear back from you soon! 


September 8, 2015 - 3:05pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Susan Cody)

Yes I was tested for everything twice. I do have hepatitis C but was assured by all Physicians that it was not related. And my liver is fine for now. I am stumped and the Doctors look at me like I am crazy. This has been going on& off for 3 years now.

September 8, 2015 - 3:16pm
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

What kind of doctors are you seeing, Anon?  A urologist or a gynecologist? 

Samples need to be taken of this discharge and analyzed so that they know what it is (virus, bacterial etc) and treatment can be given.  

I can't imagine why you are not being given treatment regardless of what the tests say if you are in such discomfort and showing the symptoms of discharge with a foul smell.  



September 8, 2015 - 3:23pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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