The Urethra is the narrow outlet tube that leads from the bladder to the penis or vulva. Urine leaves the bladder via the urethra. The urethra is much shorter in women than in males (in males the urethra extends the whole length of the penis).
The urethra can become inflamed as a result of infection in much the same way as the bladder does (Cystitis). Non-Specific Urethritis or NSU, is a term used for inflammation of the urethra where no organism has been found to be responsible.
Symptoms may include a discharge, cloudy urine and pain on micturition (passing urine). NSU is considered a sexually transmitted disease. Other causes of urethritis can be infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Bacterial infections can occur if the perineum is irritated or inflamed, a common cause of this can be bubble baths, vaginal deodorants and sexual intercourse. However it is normally impossible to identify one specific pathogen in NSU.
Treatment is based on eliminating a recognizable germ which must lead to the exclusion of gonorrhea as this can lead to infertility problems in women if left untreated. The next stage is to try an antibiotic, which is specific to bacterial causes of urethritis in the hope that it may work.
All partners must be contacted in NSU cases as it can lead to chronic problems less easy to treat.
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