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What Is Dysuria: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Dysuria is the medical term for painful urination or discomfort while urinating.

What Is Dysuria: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What is dysuria?

Dysuria is the medical term for painful urination or discomfort while urinating. This painful, burning sensation is commonly associated with urinary tract infections, which are usually caused by bacteria. Dysuria is also a common symptom of cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) and bladder infection in women ages 20-50 years old. However, men who are 50 years old and above with prostate infection or an enlarged prostate are also more susceptible to developing cystitis. 

A urinary tract infection (UTI) starts when unwanted bacteria enter the urethra during sexual intercourse. If bacteria move up the urethra and reach the bladder, they can cause cystitis. When bacteria reach the kidneys, they can cause an infection called pyelonephritis. 

Dysuria is also more common in women than men. If you are experiencing painful urination, make sure to consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. 


Pain may either occur before or after urination. Some people may also experience urethral irritation along with painful urination. Others also report abdominal pain, flank pain, and back pain. However, the most common symptoms are:

  • Urinary frequency - the need to pass urine many times a day.
  • Urinary urgency - the urge to immediately urinate but passing only little amounts of urine or no urine at all with a burning sensation right after. 
  • Urinary hesitancy - even though the urge of urinating is there, but men complain of taking a long time to begin urination.

There could be many causes associated with dysuria, and one of the causes is a urinary tract infection. When bacteria enter the body, they tend to quickly multiply and cause an irritation in the urinary tract leading to infection in the urethra, bladder, and kidneys. In men, bacteria can cause prostate infection. 

The most common type of bacteria that causes urinary tract infections is Escherichia coli or E. coli, which can be found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Women are more prone to developing urinary tract infections because the distance between the urethra and rectum is shorter in women. Bacteria from the GI tract can easily invade the urinary tract of women due to the anatomical locations of their urethra and rectum. 

Other issues that are associated with dysuria are irritation, trauma, and obstruction. Certain people are also sensitive to lotions, perfumes, detergents, and soap. Due to this sensitivity, an allergic reaction is triggered in the urethra.

Moreover, when coming in contact with urine, discomfort can occur due to injuries caused by catheter placement or lesions when tissues are disrupted. Aside from painful urination, people with kidney stones, bladder stones, and urethral stones can have a reduced urine flow. Other causes of dysuria are tumors due to cancer of the urinary tract. 


  • Bladder stones - Due to retained urine or foreign objects in the bladder, solid minerals can accumulate. The condition is characterized by difficulty in applying pressure, lower abdominal pain or back pain, fever, pain in the urethra, frequent nighttime urination, and loss of bladder control. 
  • STDs and STIs - The symptoms of these infections may vary from one person to another. However, they also share common symptoms, such as a burning sensation when urinating and the presence of sores. Painful blisters and sores are caused by genital herpes, but Chlamydia is mostly asymptomatic. An abnormal discharge or pain is caused by a yeast infection, while dysuria is usually caused by gonorrhea, an STD caused by bacteria. 
  • Cystitis - The lower urinary tract, particularly the urinary bladder is affected by this condition. It is characterized by bladder inflammation and infection with symptoms, such as a bloody, cloudy, and smelly urine, abdominal pain, and pelvic pressure or discomfort. 
  • Medications - Dysuria may also be due to the use of certain medications, supplements, and other forms of treatment. 
  • Kidney stones - These stones are hard minerals formed within the kidneys or urinary tract. A small kidney stone cannot be easily detected, but bigger ones can cause fever, flank pain, hematuria, and nausea. A kidney infection can also occur if the kidney stones block the ureter. When an infection develops, aside from fever, it can also cause chills, weakness, and diarrhea
  • Prostatitis - When the prostate gland is inflamed, it results in prostatitis. This condition usually occurs due to a bacterial infection. It causes sexual dysfunction, genitourinary pain, and other health problems.
  • Mechanical irritation - When vaginal rings, diaphragms, and certain medical procedures cause mechanical irritation, they can give rise to painful urination.
  • Chemical irritation - Dysuria may also occur due to the use of personal hygiene products, lubricants, tampons, or contraceptives.
  • Other medical conditions - Certain diseases may also give rise to dysuria, such as tumors in the urinary tract, urethral stricture, and radiation cystitis.


It's time to see your healthcare provider when you experience frequent and painful urination. On your doctor's appointment, you will be asked about your personal habits, sexual habit, and symptoms. The doctor will then proceed to a physical examination, which may involve a pelvic exam in women and checking the kidneys for tenderness. When it comes to men, a digital rectal exam will be done.

A bladder infection can be confirmed by a simple urine test. However, other infections such as urethritis and vaginitis are diagnosed by collecting a sample from the infected area and then sent to the laboratory for further testing. 

When a kidney infection is suspected, a urine sample will be collected to specifically identify which type of bacteria caused the infection. To check for bacteria in the blood, a blood sample will be taken and then sent to the lab. The doctor may also order tests for STD if you had unprotected sex with multiple partners.


Most people respond to antibiotic treatment within a few days if the cause of dysuria is a simple urinary tract infection.

  • Cystitis and pyelonephritis - These infections are usually caused by bacteria. Treatment involves the use of antibiotics. However, people with severe pyelonephritis and with symptoms of high fever, chills, and vomiting require intravenous antibiotics. 
  • Urethritis - This type of infection is also treated using antibiotics. 
  • Vaginitis - Antibiotics are given to treat trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis. For yeast infections, antifungal drugs, which can be in the form of creams, suppositories, or pills can be used for treatment. 

Home Remedies

The following are some of the remedies you can do at home to help relieve the pain and other symptoms that are associated with dysuria:

  • Increase your water intake.
  • Apply a warm compress to your lower abdomen. 
  • Drink a diluted solution of water and apple cider vinegar. 
  • Add baking soda to your drinking water. 
  • Eat plain yogurt. 
  • Drink lemon water or coconut water.
  • Wear cotton underwear. 
  • Avoid wearing wet clothes. 
  • Avoid consuming spicy food, caffeine, and carbonated beverages. 
  • Avoid holding your pee. 
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. 
  • Avoid smoking. 


It is important for women to wipe from front to back after bowel movements to avoid developing urinary tract infections, which can lead to cystitis or pyelonephritis. Be well-hydrated by drinking several glasses of water every day. 

After sexual intercourse, you should urinate to flush any bacteria that may have entered the urethra. Keep your genital area clean and dry. Women should also frequently change their tampons and sanitary napkins. The use of irritating soaps, vaginal sprays, and douches should also be avoided.

Practice safe sex to prevent infections that are associated with STDs. Unless you do not have a steady sex partner, always use a condom.