Urination - painful
Painful urination is any pain, discomfort, or burning sensation when passing urine.
Dysuria; Painful urination
Pain may be felt right where the urine passes out of the body. Or, it may be felt inside the body, behind the pubic bone, or in the bladder or prostate.
Pain on urination is a fairly common problem. People who have pain with urination also may have the urge to urinate more often.
Painful urination is most often caused by an infection or inflammation somewhere in the urinary tract, such as:
- Bladder infection in an adult
- Bladder infection in a child
- Swelling and irritation of the tube that carries urine out of the body (urethra)
Painful urination in women and girls may be due to:
- Changes in the vaginal tissue during menopause (atrophic vaginitis)
- Herpes infection in the genital area
- Irritation of the vaginal tissue caused by bubble bath, perfumes, or lotions
- Vulvovaginitis, such as yeast or other infections of the vulva and vagina
Other causes of painful urination include:
- Interstitial cystitis
- Prostate infection (prostatitis)
- Radiation cystitis - damage to the bladder lining from radiation therapy to the pelvis area
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea or chlamydia
- Bladder spasms
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
- There is drainage or a discharge from your penis or vagina.
- You are pregnant and are having any painful urination.
- You have painful urination that lasts for more than 1 day.
- You notice blood in your urine.
- You have a fever.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions such as:
- When did the painful urination begin?
- Does the pain occur only during urination? Does it stop after urination?
- Do you have other symptoms such as back pain?
- Have you had a fever higher than 100°F (37.7°C)?
- Is there drainage or discharge between urinations? Is there an abnormal urine odor? Is there blood in the urine?
- Are there any changes in the volume or frequency of urination?
- Do you feel the urge to urinate?
- Are there any rashes or itching in the genital area?
- What medicines are you taking?
- Are you pregnant or could you be pregnant?
- Have you had a bladder infection?
- Do you have any allergies to any medicines?
- Have you had sexual intercourse with someone who has, or may have, gonorrhea or chlamydia?
- Has there been a recent change in your brand of soap, detergent, or fabric softener?
- Have you had surgery or radiation to your urinary or sexual organs?
A urinalysis will be done. A urine culture may be ordered. If you have had a previous bladder or kidney infection, a more detailed history and physical exam are needed. Extra lab tests will also be needed. A pelvic exam and exam of vaginal fluids are needed for women and girls who have vaginal discharge. Men who have discharge from the penis will need to have a urethral swab done.
Other tests may include:
- Ultrasound of the kidneys and bladder
- An exam of the inside of bladder with a lighted telescope (cystoscope)
Treatment depends on what is causing the pain.
Ban KM, Easter JS. Selected urologic problems. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 99.
Schaeffer AJ, Matulewicz RS, Klumpp DJ. Infections of the urinary tract. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 12.
Sobel JD, Kaye D. Urinary tract infections. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 74.
Reviewed By: Jennifer Sobol, DO, urologist with the Michigan Institute of Urology, West Bloomfield, MI. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.