Painful urination is a common symptom of multiple sexually transmitted infections (STIs / STDs) in both women and men. It can also be indicative of numerous other health conditions, so it’s important to understand the causes in order identify and act on the most likely reason for you.
Painful Urination from Sexually Transmitted Infections
Painful urination is a common symptom for two of the three most common STIs in the United States: gonorrhea and chlamydia. In some cases, however, a person can have one or both of these infections and experience no symptoms at all. While that may sound like a relief, it’s actually really dangerous, because the absence of symptoms allows an infected person to infect others without even realizing it.
When gonorrhea symptoms do occur, they usually appear 1-10 days after infection. In addition to painful urination, symptoms for women may include painful urination, vaginal bleeding between periods, pain during sex, bleeding after sex, abdominal or pelvic pain and/or unusual vaginal discharge. Additional symptoms for men may include painful, swollen testicles, frequent urination and/or yellow, white, or green discharge from the penis.
With chlamydia, if symptoms appear at all, they typically occur 1-3 weeks after infection. When they do, symptoms for women may include painful urination and/or abnormal genital discharge. Men may experience those same symptoms as well as potential pain or swelling in the testicles. Chlamydia can also infect the rectum in men and women, in which case rectal pain, discharge and bleeding may occur.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia for any sexually active women under the age of 25. Women 25-years-old and older should also be tested for these infections once a year if they have risk factors including new sexual partners, multiple partners or a partner known to be infected with an STD. The CDC also recommends annual chlamydia and gonorrhea testing for homosexual and bisexual men. And, of course, if you’re experiencing symptoms, you should get tested right away.
Painful urination is also common with trichomoniasis and genital herpes. Like gonorrhea and chlamydia, these sexually transmitted infections may not present any symptoms at all. You can learn more about them here and here.
Other Health Conditions that Cause Painful Urination
STIs are certainly not the only health conditions that can cause painful urination. Others include urinary tract infection, vaginal yeast infection, kidney stones or kidney infection, bladder stones or bladder inflammation, narrowing of or infection of the urethra, prostatitis and vaginitis. Painful urination can also be a side effect of some medications, or be caused by a reaction to certain hygiene products. You can learn more about these potential causes here.
Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing
If you suspect you may have an STI, or just want to be tested in keeping with good sexual health practices, Sira in Gainesville offers free testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia. Testing is performed confidentially, and the results are delivered privately by a Registered Nurse. If you need further testing for other STIs, we will refer you to a community partner.