The STI Clinic News > Pain When Urinating but STIs Ruled Out
# Saturday, October 15, 2016
Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2016 | Categories: General Sexual Health

Pain or a burning sensation when you urinate often indicates a sexually transmitted infection. Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and the herpes virus can all cause pain when urinating (also known as dysuria). However, there are a number of other things that can cause this specific symptom.

Urinary Tract Infections

One common cause of dysuria is a urinary tract infection. This is where bacteria enters the urethra, the tube that passes urine and, in men, seminal fluid out of the body. This can happen during sex or when wiping your bottom after a bowel movement. It is more common in women than in men because women have a shorter urethra that is closer to the anus.

If the infection affects the urethra or bladder it can cause pain when urinating, cloudy or bloody urine, abdominal pain, and the need to urinate frequently. This type of UTI can clear up on its own within a few days, though you can also get a prescription for antibiotics to help the healing along.

The infection is more serious if it affects the kidneys or the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder. Symptoms of this include those listed above, as well as pain in the sides and back, a fever, and feeling sick. These symptoms require more urgent medical care, and shouldn’t be left untreated.

Urethral Syndrome

Urethral syndrome is where the urethra becomes inflamed, but not as a result of a bacterial or viral infection. It causes pain in the abdomen and frequent, painful urination.

Urethral syndrome is thought to be caused by a number of different things, including injury to or irritation of the urethra. The urethra can become irritated by:

  • Using scented products around the urethral opening (e.g. soap, perfume or fragranced sanitary towels)
  • Using spermicidal lubricant during sex
  • Drinking too much caffeine
  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatment

Injury to the urethra, meanwhile, can happen as a result of:

  • Sexual intercourse/activity
  • Riding a bike
  • In women, using tampons
  • In women, using a diaphragm or cap as contraception

In some cases, urethral syndrome is caused by constriction in the urethra, which can happen as a result of inflammation, injury or scarring. If this is the cause of your symptoms, then surgery to widen the urethra may be the best course of action.


An adenovirus can cause bladder infection and inflammation, leading to dysuria. These viruses can be spread through close personal contact, but they are not classed as sexually transmitted.

Lesser-known STIs

If you are suffering from painful urination but a doctor has ruled out the major STIs, it's still possible that your symptoms have been caused by a sexually transmitted infection. STIs such as mycoplasma aren’t as common or as well-known as chlamydia or gonorrhoea, but they can still cause dysuria. You can order a home test kit for mycoplasma at The STI Clinic.

Protecting Yourself in the Future

If you are frequently experiencing pain when urinating, you should take some steps to protect yourself. This involves:

  • Using condoms during sex to avoid sexually transmitted infections
  • Not sharing sex toys unless they have been washed or covered in a new condom
  • Not using scented bath products around your genitals
  • Wiping from your urethra back to your anus after a bowel movement, to avoid the spread of bacteria
  • Urinating after sexual intercourse to help expel bacteria from the urethra
  • Avoiding wearing tights or jeans that are too close-fitting
  • Avoiding underwear that isn’t made from cotton

It’s also important to get regular STI tests if you think you might be at risk (e.g. if you don’t use condoms or you have multiple sexual partners). STIs can normally be treated easily if they are diagnosed early on. You can get a full urine screening test at The STI Clinic, by ordering one of our home test kits. Click here to find out more.

It’s not always easy to avoid getting an infection, or incurring injury to the urethra, particularly if you are a woman. However, if you stick to the rules above and visit a doctor when symptoms don’t go away on their own, you should be able to avoid any serious health complications.


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