Read below about painful urination, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your painful urination from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Painful Urination Symptoms

Painful urination can catch any person off guard. Many of us have experienced waking up one morning to begin a normal routine, only to experience a burning, painful sensation upon urination.

In many people, painful urination, or dysuria, is often the only symptom. But it can also occur with other symptoms. The process of urination requires multiple organs – the kidneys filter the urine, the ureters carry urine from the kidney to the bladder where urine is stored, and finally the urethra takes urine from the bladder and expels it from the body.

Problems with any part of the urinary tract can result in painful urination as well as other related symptoms. It is important to recognize these varied painful urination symptoms and know when to speak with your doctor in order to get appropriate treatment and relief.

Other symptoms you may experience along with painful urination symptoms include:

Painful Urination Causes Overview

Painful urination and its associated symptoms can begin in any part of the urinary tract which includes, the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The causes of painful urination can be grouped into two main categories.

Infectious causes:

  • Bacterial Infections: Many types of outside bacteria can enter the body easily via the urinary tract, including sexually transmitted bacteria such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Bacterial infections may also explain any genital itching or discharge you may be experiencing.

  • Fungal Infections: The vagina can become infected by fungi such as yeast or become overgrown by fungi that already inhabit the vaginal walls. These types of infections cause pain upon urination because the flow of urine can irritate the vaginal walls.

Inflammation and irritation:

Infection is a major cause of inflammation, but the urinary tract, vagina or prostate can also become inflamed and irritated due to causes not related to infection.

  • Internal obstruction: The kidney is prone to developing stones of hardened material that can irritate not only the kidney but the entire urinary tract, leading to painful urination.
  • External Moisture Changes: Scented soaps, lotions, toiletries and other body products can dry out and irritate the genital tissue and cause painful urination. Furthermore, with menopause, the vagina loses its natural lubrication. Subsequent dryness and irritation can also result in painful urination symptoms.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Painful Urination

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced painful urination. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Urinary Tract Infection

    In women, the opening to the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) is very close to the anus, and bacteria from the anus can easily escape and travel up the urethra. These bacteria can infect the bladder, and cause what is known as a urinary tract infection (UTI).

    Symptoms most often go away within 24 to 48 hours after treatment begins.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    abdominal cramps (stomach cramps), pelvis pain, sudden urgency to urinate, signs of urinary tract inflammation, urinary changes
    Symptoms that always occur with urinary tract infection:
    signs of urinary tract inflammation
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  2. 2.Non - Specific Painful Urination (Dysuria)

    Painful urination can be caused by a host of things, but is often idiopathic (without cause).

    Variable

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    painful urination, vaginal discharge
    Symptoms that always occur with non-specific painful urination (dysuria):
    painful urination
    Symptoms that never occur with non-specific painful urination (dysuria):
    pelvis pain, bright red (bloody) urine, pink/blood-tinged urine, fever, vaginal discharge, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea or vomiting
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.Urethritis

    Urethritis is an inflammation of the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine away from the bladder.

    Within a day or two of antibiotic treatment, symptoms usually resolve.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    painful urination, penis pain, fluid leaking, pink/blood-tinged urine, cloudy urine
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Yeast Infection

    Yeast infections are caused by a fungus called "Candida." Candida is the scientific name for yeast that lives almost everywhere, including in the human body. Typically, our immune system keeps it under control, but if you take antibiotics or gets sick, the fungus can multiply and cause an infection. In this case, it is happening in the vagina.

    50% of women have relapses within 2 months, and 9% have more than 4 episodes per year. For those, maintenance therapy is possible.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal itch or burning, white/gray vaginal discharge, thick vaginal discharge, vaginal pain, vulvovaginal redness
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  5. 5.Atrophic Vaginitis

    Atrophic vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina and surrounding structures. It is caused by decreased levels of estrogen which causes the endometrial and vaginal lining to thin and vaginal pH to increase, causing symptoms like dryness, burning, and itching.

    Treatment will effectively manage symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, delay in or irregular periods, vaginal itch or burning, signs of urinary tract inflammation
    Symptoms that always occur with atrophic vaginitis:
    delay in or irregular periods
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  6. 6.Symptoms of Menopause

    Menopause is the point in life where your period stops. This happens when the ovaries stop making hormones that keep your cycle going. The transition into menopause is called peri-menopause and can include symptoms like hot flashes, shortening of menstrual cycle and mood fluctuations.

    Hot flashes typically peak approximately 1 year after the final period and last 4-10 years. Most women stop having hot flashes 4 years after they start, but 10% of women may have hot flashes up to 12 years after their last period.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, delay in or irregular periods, vaginal discharge, anxiety, trouble sleeping
    Symptoms that always occur with symptoms of menopause:
    delay in or irregular periods
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  7. 7.Chlamydia Infection

    Chlamydia is a common bacterial infection that is spread through unprotected sex. Each year, over 1 million Americans are diagnosed with this STD.

    The infection should clear in 1-7 days after treatment.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, sudden urgency to urinate, bleeding after sex, frequent urination
    Symptoms that never occur with chlamydia infection:
    improving vaginal discharge
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Painful Bladder Syndrome (Interstitial Cystitis)

    Painful bladder syndrome, also known as interstitial cystitis (IC), is a chronic condition that causes discomfort or pain in the bladder and a need to urinate frequently and urgently. The cause of this condition is not very clear and it is usually diagnosed when other causes like urinary tract infections are excluded.

    Chronic disease whose progression varies highly from person to person. Symptoms may persist for years.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps), depressed mood, pelvis pain, arthralgias or myalgias
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Vaginal Trichomonas Infection

    Trichomonas vaginalis infection (or "Trichomoniasis" or "trich") is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite of the same name. It affects over 3 million people per year, but only about 30% have any symptoms.

    Treatment leads to a 100% cure rate in 7-14 days

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vulvovaginal odor, vaginal itch or burning, vaginal bleeding, white/gray vaginal discharge
    Symptoms that always occur with vaginal trichomonas infection:
    vaginal discharge
    Symptoms that never occur with vaginal trichomonas infection:
    vaginal ulcer
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  10. 10.Gonococcal Cervicitis

    Gonorrhea is a common STD and 350,000 cases occur each year in the United States. It is transmitted through unprotected sex.

    1 week with treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, painful sex, yellow pus vaginal discharge, heavy menstrual flow
    Symptoms that never occur with gonococcal cervicitis:
    improving vaginal discharge
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Painful Urination Treatments and Relief

If you are experiencing painful urination, make an appointment with your doctor. Painful urination is usually an easily treatable condition.

Based on your painful urination symptoms, your doctor may:

  • Test your urine to see if you have an infection
  • Swab your vagina to collect mucous and determine if a bacteria or yeast is causing inflammation
  • Examine your prostate to see if your pain is caused by an infection or inflammation of the prostate gland

Depending on the findings, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. It is important to take the antibiotics as instructed, because skipping doses may make the treatment less effective and put you at risk for developing other infections.

Make another appointment with your doctor or go straight to the hospital if:

  • Your painful urination persists
  • You have drainage or discharge from your penis or vagina
  • Your urine is foul-smelling or cloudy, or you see blood in your urine
  • You have a fever
  • You have back pain or pain in your side (flank pain)
  • You pass a kidney or bladder (urinary tract) stone

Lifestyle modifications:

If you are looking to prevent these painful urination symptoms, there are many things you can do at home and easily change in your routine to help you keep discomfort at bay.

  • Limit the use of any scented bath and body products to reduce risk of irritation.
  • Use lubrication and condoms during sexual activity to protect yourself from irritation and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Drink sufficient water daily to reduce your risk of developing stones in the kidney and urinary tract.

FAQs About Painful Urination

Here are some frequently asked questions about painful urination.

Why does it sting after I pee?

Stinging or burning after urination may be caused by infectious or non-infectious causes. Infectious causes include infections of the bladder and urethra like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or herpes. Non-infectious causes include chemicals entering the urethra like detergents from clothes, fabric softeners, perfumed soaps, and bubble baths. Notably, non-infectious causes do not cause a discharge.

Can pain when urinating be a sign of pregnancy?

No, painful urination is not used as a sign of pregnancy. Pregnant women, however, do have a higher rate of recurring bacterial infections in their urine during pregnancy. This is because of the effects of the gravid (pregnant) uterus on the bladder and its ability to fully empty. While you stand a higher chance of having bacteriuria because of its recurrence rate while pregnant, and this may cause pain upon urination, it is not common enough to be used as a sign of pregnancy.

Can a UTI go away on its own?

There is little evidence that a urinary tract infection (UTI) routinely can resolve on its own. Uncommonly the urinary tract infection gradually disappears as the body fights the infection. More commonly the UTI gets worse by ascending the urinary tract to the bladder or kidneys. UTIs generally should be treated immediately.

Is painful urination a sign of an STD?

Yes, although painful urination can be caused by other disorders as well, it is a sign of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI). Particularly gonorrhea and chlamydia are known for causing pain with urination. If you suspect you have an STD, than you should seek both evaluation and care in your local health center or from your general practitioner.

Why do I have continuous burning after I pee?

Continuous burning after urination can be a sign of many things. Infectious causes include inflammation of the urethra and/or the bladder by gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes. Inflammation of the head of the penis or the foreskin can cause pain after urination, as urination irritates the inflammation of the foreskin; this can be caused by a bacterial infection from accumulation of bacteria or from a sexually transmitted infection. Inflammation of the vagina or presence of candida — a non-sexually transmitted yeast — can cause burning with urination in women. Streptococcus and shigella, which can cause strep throat and food poisoning respectively, can also cause burning with urination. Chemicals in soaps, detergents, fabric softeners, and shampoos can also cause burning after urination.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Painful Urination

  • Q.Are you sexually active?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you noticed any changes in the color of your urine recently?
  • Q.Have you experienced any nausea?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our painful urination symptom checker to find out more.

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Painful Urination Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced painful urination have also experienced:

    • 9% Vaginal Itch or Burning
    • 7% Vaginal Discharge
    • 4% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)
  • People who have experienced painful urination were most often matched with:

    • 57% Urethritis
    • 28% Urinary Tract Infection
    • 14% Non - Specific Painful Urination (Dysuria)
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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