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Urethritis in Males: Teen Version



  • Urethritis is irritation or infection of the tube that empties urine from the bladder.
  • Urethritis is usually treated with medicine.
  • It helps if you avoid activities, chemicals, or other irritants that cause redness, burning, or itching in the genital area. Always use latex or polyurethane condoms during sex to help prevent infection.


What is urethritis?

Urethritis is irritation or infection of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that empties urine from the bladder. In men, the urethra extends the full length of the penis.

What is the cause?

Urethritis may be caused by infection. A yeast infection or sexually transmitted diseases or infection (also called an STD or STI) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, are common causes.

Irritation of the urethra can be caused by chemicals such as lubricants, spermicide, or condoms with scents, colors, or flavors.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Painful urination
  • Drops of pus from the opening of the penis
  • Tenderness at the opening of the penis

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. Your provider may swab discharge from the penis to test for bacteria in the lab. A sample of your urine may be tested for infection. You may also have blood tests.

How is it treated?

Your healthcare provider will likely prescribe antibiotic medicine if your symptoms are caused by bacteria. Symptoms caused by an infection should stop within a few days after you start taking antibiotic medicine. Take antibiotics for as long as your healthcare provider prescribes, even if you feel better. If you stop taking the medicine too soon, you may not kill all of the bacteria and you may get symptoms again.

If your symptoms are caused by an STD or STI, treating the infection should help. Your recent sexual partners should also be treated.

Your provider may prescribe another medicine to help relieve burning with urination and discomfort in the bladder.

How can I help take care of myself?

  • Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • If you have an STD, do not have sex before both you and your partners have finished all of the medicine. Ask your provider when you can have sex again.
  • Ask your provider:
    • How and when you will get your test results
    • How long it will take to recover
    • If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
    • How to take care of yourself at home
    • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them
  • Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I help prevent urethritis?

  • Avoid activities, chemicals, or other irritants that cause redness, burning, or itching in the genital area.
  • Keep your genital area clean. Always wash your penis during baths or showers. If you are not circumcised, gently pull back the foreskin and wash the tip of your penis when you take a bath or shower.
  • Use latex or polyurethane condoms during foreplay and every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex to help prevent infection with an STD.
  • Avoid any chemicals (including scents, colors, or flavors in condoms) before or during sex. Unscented lubricant, such as KY jelly, is OK.
  • Have just 1 sexual partner who is not sexually active with anyone else. Make sure your partner has been tested for gonorrhea and other STDs.
Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2018.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2017-04-28
Last reviewed: 2017-04-28
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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