The urethra is the tube that empties urine from the bladder. Urethral syndrome is a long-term problem that causes swelling or irritation of the urethra that is not caused by an infection, but it certainly can feel like you have a urinary tract infection.
What is the cause:
Usually the cause of the symptoms cannot be found. Urethral syndrome may be caused by irritation of the genital area from; Spasms of the muscles around the urethra, or injury, rubbing or pressure from tight clothing or sex, physical activity such as bicycle riding, irritants such as soap, body powder, and spermicides, dyes or perfumes in toilet tissue & feminine hygiene products; pads, tampons, and sprays, nerve problems caused by diseases such as diabetes or herpes, and decreased estrogen levels which cause the vaginal & urethra tissues to thin & dry-out.
What are the symptoms:
Pain and discomfort in the lower abdomen
Increased urgency to urinate, & it never feels like your bladder is empty.
Pain with urination & sex.
How is it diagnosed:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history. Tests may include:
Blood or urine tests, Urodynamic tests, which show how your bladder stores & releases urine.
Cystoscopy, a procedure using a slim, flexible, tube with a tiny camera to look at bladder & urethra.
How is it treated:
Woman who are pre or post menopausal may benefit from prescription estrogen vaginal cream
May need to avoid having sex until the symptoms go away.
If the urethra has become narrower, the ability to empty your bladder completely, is challenging. In this case, the urethra may need to be dilated, to widen the opening, making it easier to urinate.
Kegel exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support your bladder, vagina, uterus, and rectum. Using these muscles when you urinate, have bowel movements, & during sex, you’ll see improvement
How can I help prevent urethral syndrome, or it’s re-occurrence:
1) Drink plenty of fluids each day. The fluids help flush the bladder and the rest of the urinary tract. 2) Avoid or limit caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol. It may also help to avoid foods that are acidic or spicy, such as citrus fruit, hot mustard, hot peppers, and salsa.
3) Keep the genital area clean, using a mild cleanser and water.
4) Urinate before and after sex. Wipe from front to back after urination.
5) Avoid strong soaps, bubble bath, bath oils or other perfumed bath products, feminine hygiene sprays, douches, scented tampons, sanitary napkins, panty liners or toilet paper.
6) Wear cotton underwear & pantyhose with a cotton crotch. Cotton is breathable & keeps you cool 7) Avoid tight clothes in the genital area, such as control-top pantyhose and tight jeans.
8) Avoid bicycling for long periods of time, especially if you have a long-nose bicycle seat.
9) Use a lubricant if you have mild pain during sex. Glycerin or water-based vaginal lubricants.
10) Petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, is not recommended, nor scents, colors, or flavors in condoms.