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Painful Urination

What is painful urination?

Painful urination is an abnormal burning or stinging sensation that sometimes occurs while urinating. The painful, stinging irritation felt during urination is usually caused when urine comes in contact with lesions or sores within the urethra or when urine comes in contact with an inflamed glans (tip of the penis). Burning or painful urination can be a sign of an STD and is often one of the first noticeable symptoms that an infection is present.

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Causes of burning or painful urination that cannot be passed sexually:

  • Yeast infection or urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Kidney stones or an obstruction in the ureters
  • Chemical irritation from lotions or creams
  • Irritation from condoms or lubricants
  • Allergic reaction to soaps or detergents
  • Friction from clothing

Painful urination or a burning feeling when you urinate can be a constant irritation or can occur intermittently when irritants are introduced to the external urethral opening (such as during intercourse or when clothing or other objects come in contact with the area). Burning can begin suddenly or gradually grow in intensity over a period of time. In some cases, the burning sensation goes away on its own, but in cases where the burning is caused by an STD, medication is required to treat the burning.

An internal burning or painful sensation during urination is usually a sign of a bladder or urinary tract infection or an allergic reaction.

Which STDs cause burning or painful urination?

  • Chlamydia - A sexually transmitted disease that can result in similar symptoms to a urinary tract infection: painful urination and discharge from the penis.
  • Gonorrhea - An STD that can cause discharge to leak from the penis.
  • Mycoplasma genitalium - A sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria that affects the epithelial cells of the urinary tract. It can lead to urethritis (swelling and inflammation of the urethra) and result in penile discharge.
  • Genital herpes - Genital herpes can be accompanied by lesions or sores. If urine comes in contact with an ulcer or sore, it can burn.
  • Ureaplasma - An STI, similar to mycoplasma genitalium, that can cause symptoms like penile discharge, the feeling of needing to urinate frequently, and painful or burning urination.
  • Trichomoniasis - Trich is an STD that can cause an irritated or itching sensation inside the penis, burning during urination and/or discharge from the penis.

The bacterial STDs gonorrhea and chlamydia are both associated with painful urination, and chlamydia often occurs simultaneously with gonorrhea in what is called a co-infection. Both infections can be cured when treated with antibiotics, often in a single dose.

Getting tested for STDs is the only way to be sure of the cause of vaginal burning, irritation or a burning sensation while urinating. Because many STDs don’t show symptoms, an infection could go unnoticed and progress into a more serious condition with long-lasting side effects. Frequent STD testing is the only way for sexually active women to be completely sure of their STD status and prevent untreated infections.

  1. "Urination - Painful." Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003145.htm
  2. "Dysuria (Painful Urination)." Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15176-dysuria-painful-urination
  3. Bellows, Fara, MD. "Why Does it Hurt When I Pee?" Ohio State University - Wexner Medical Center. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/why-does-it-hurt-when-i-pee

Medically Reviewed by on Jun 18, 2019

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