Dysuria: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Dysuria: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Dysuria is the medical term for painful or uncomfortable urination. Bruising or scraping the urethra and a burning sensation are two common symptoms.

Dysuria is the most common urinary complaint among adult women and the second most common in adult men causing approximately 10-15% of primary care physicians each year in the United States.

Dysuria is not a disease but a sign of acute or chronic conditions, including kidney stones, Urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, interstitial cystitis, gynecological conditions such as vaginal infections, or a urinary stone (urolith).

What are the Causes of Dysuria?

Sometimes painful urination is caused by a urinary tract infection or bladder infection; however, it can also be caused by taking certain medications. The common causes of Dysuria include:

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) 

The human urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. It plays a vital role in removing wastes from the body. Collectively, these organs are known as the urinary tract.

Urinary tract infections (UTI) occur when the bacteria E. coli from the digestive tract or a similar organism finds its way up the urethra and reproduces in the bladder and ureters. Although not usually dangerous, urinary tract infections or UTIs can cause a lot of discomforts, particularly in women.

Even though the urinary system has an excellent defense mechanism against infection, certain risk factors increase your chances of developing a UTI. The risks include being a woman, sexually active, using spermicides, having a weak immune system, having an enlarged prostate, or having kidney stones. 

A decrease in estrogen levels during menopause also makes the urinary tract more susceptible to infection. Treatment of UTIs typically involves an antibiotic, and in most cases, symptoms subside within a few days of starting the medication. 

It is essential to continue taking the antibiotic after all symptoms have disappeared to ensure that the infection completely disappears.


Inflammation of the prostate gland is the most common urologic condition affecting men of all ages. 

The prostate is a 2-3 inch, walnut-sized gland in the male reproductive system that helps secrete small amounts of fluid that nourish and protect the semen.

Although the exact cause is unknown, numerous factors contribute to the development of this disease, including prostate enlargement, sex, and bacteria. Prostatitis is an immune system disorder, but there may be numerous causes, including bacterial dysfunction.

The primary prostatitis symptoms are pain and burning sensation in the groin or perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus). Other symptoms include fever and chills. While not contagious, this condition can be damaging to the reproductive system.

Prostatitis is usually self-resolving; however, if bacteria cause it, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.


 Vaginitis is an infection of the vagina caused by the overgrowth of yeast (Candida albicans) or bacteria (Gardnerella vaginalis). About 7% of all women visiting a gynecologist will experience it at least once, while 60% will encounter it repeatedly.

The most common cause of vaginitis is a bacterial infection, typically transmitted sexually and can be treated using antimicrobial drugs. Symptoms include itching, burning, vaginal discharge, and the vagina being more prone to infections from other bacteria.

Genital Herpes

Sexually transmitted diseases, such as genital herpes, are a public health problem that affects more than 1 in every 6 people in the United States. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is responsible for the disease. 

The two types of HSV are HSV-1 and HSV-2, and both lead to genital herpes, but HSV-1 is usually associated with oral herpes, otherwise known as cold sores.

Genital herpes outbreaks can be painful and produce a contagious, itchy rash and painful urination. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for genital herpes. But, thanks to research and advances in medicine, there are effective treatments available today that can manage and reduce the risk of passing genital herpes to your partner.

Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)

Pyelonephritis is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the kidneys and surrounding structures. Kidney infections have serious side effects and acute pain in the back and lower abdominal region. Kidney infections can also lead to the formation of bladder stones and can cause conditions that require additional treatment.


Certain medications can irritate and inflame bladder tissues, including those prescribed by doctors to treat bladder cancer. As a result, urinating can become painful.

You should consult your doctor if you experience pain while urinating after starting a new medication and make inquiries about its side effects. It’s not a good idea to stop taking your medications without consulting a doctor first.

Diagnosis for Dysuria

While there is no established protocol for diagnosing Dysuria, if you experience pain during urination, your doctor may suspect Dysuria as an underlying factor. 

Your doctor will perform a physical examination and review complete your medical history for other past medical conditions with similar symptoms. Your doctor may perform an STI test, especially if you have a discharge from the penis or vagina, to diagnose sexually transmitted infections.

Your doctor will ask questions about your current prescription or over-the-counter drugs you may be used to manage your condition. Your doctor may order a blood test, MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound for a more detailed diagnosis.

How is Dysuria Treated?

The medical treatment of Dysuria is rapidly changing. New research has improved healthcare providers’ ability to recognize those at high risk of a complication and provide a wider range of therapeutic options.

Antibiotics are used as a traditional method for treating Dysuria. If your condition worsens after a few days of treatment, consult your doctor for an alternative treatment course.