For the average individual, using the bathroom is about as common as brushing your teeth or eating. Yet, despite its commonality, one’s bathroom habits aren’t typically the topic of conversation. That is until things don’t go as expected. Such is the case when a person goes to urinate and feels a burning sensation. Not only can this feel painful, but it’s a sure sign that something isn’t quite right. What causes painful urination, and what can you do if you’re experiencing the burning sensation?
5 Causes of Dysuria (Painful Urination)
Painful urination is also known as dysuria. The pain can originate from the bladder, urethra, or perineum. While dysuria is fairly common, it’s almost always a sign of other issues.
1. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
As the name indicates, a UTI is a bacterial infection and typically impacts the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. While women are more likely to get UTIs than men, either gender can experience symptoms. Common signs aside from dysuria include:
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy
- Urine that appears red, bright pink, or cola-colored — a sign of blood in the urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain in women — especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
In general, people are more likely to experience a UTI if they’ve had one before, have diabetes, use spermicides or a diaphragm, or you have kidney stones. But, there are ways to prevent or lower your risk — including wiping from the front to the back, urinating soon after intercourse, avoiding irritating feminine products, and changing birth control methods if they promote bacterial growth.
If you suspect you have a UTI, you should visit an emergency clinic for antibiotics to address the infection. Failure to do so can result in kidney infections and other complications. Those with a UTI can also find relief by drinking plenty of fluids — including cranberry juice — but this should not be the primary choice of care.
Related: UTI Dos and Dont’s
2. Other Infections
UTI isn’t the only infection that can cause painful urination. Other common causes include a yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis. Both types of infections impact the vagina, but why they occur is different. Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina, while bacterial vaginosis can occur from intercourse when the good and bad bacteria are imbalanced. Both cause dysuria, but yeast infection symptoms include:
- An itchy or irritated vulva and vagina
- A red or swollen vulva
- A sore vagina
- A rash in or around the vagina
- Discharge that’s watery or looks like cottage cheese but doesn’t smell
Bacterial vaginosis has similar symptoms, but with one big difference — the discharge can smell foul or like fish. Both types of infections are fairly common and can be prevented with good hygiene, avoiding irritating products, and wearing cotton underwear for breathability.
Similar to other infections, if you suspect you have one of these conditions, you should seek medical care quickly to get the antibiotics you need. Failing to take antibiotics as directed can cause further complications and pain.
3. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
In many cases, STDs won’t show any symptoms. But, when they do, painful urination is typically at the top of the list. While most sexually transmitted diseases are also considered bacterial infections, there are some that are caused by viruses and other parasites. In addition to dysuria, common symptoms — depending on the STD — include:
- Sores on the mouth and genitals
- Abnormal discharge — that’s yellow or green in color
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Itchy or painful bumps
- Redness or soreness
STDs can be prevented by identifying if you or your partner has one, and using contraceptives — such as condoms — to prevent passing the disease to each other. You should also avoid having sex if you notice any open sores, which means you are experiencing a flareup.
If you suspect you or your partner may have an STD, you should get tested before having intercourse. Some STDs can be managed with prescription medicine or antibiotics to treat symptoms and reduce the risk of passing the disease to your partner. Your treatment option will vary and depend on the type of disease you have.
4. Vaginal Tears
Vaginal tears can occur through sexual or non-sexual activities — such as giving birth. If your dysuria is caused by these little abrasions, then you likely won’t have any other symptoms. But, while you heal, you can help reduce the pain by pouring warm water over your vaginal area while you urinate. For new moms, this may include purchasing a perineal irrigation bottle.
While it’s not easy to prevent a non-sexual vaginal tear, sex-related vaginal tears can be reduced or prevented entirely with the right amount of lubrication before intercourse. In almost all cases, vaginal tears are not typically severe enough for an emergency room visit and instead require rest to allow the tear to heal naturally.
5. Hygiene Products
In some cases, women may use deodorizers and perfumes to clean their vaginal area. This can throw off the pH balance and — in extreme cases — cause an irritation that leads to dysuria. If you have sensitive skin, this can occur by simply taking a bubble bath with scented soaps. In addition to painful urination, some unnecessary hygiene products may cause:
- Vaginal dryness
- A rash
The easiest way to prevent dysuria caused by hygiene products is to not use them in the first place. The vaginal area can be cleaned during a bath or shower with unscented soap and water. Otherwise, the inside of the vagina is able to clean itself.
Should you develop an infection from using unnecessary hygiene products, you should quit using the product immediately and seek medical care to determine the type of infection and receive antibiotics if applicable. If left untreated, infections can lead to life-threatening complications.
24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas
If you or a loved one believe you may have dysuria, let us help you. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.