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What is Urethral Stenosis?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Urethral stenosis is a medical condition characterized by a blockage in the urethra, the tube which drains fluid from the bladder to the outside of the body. There are a number of different causes for this condition, and an assortment of treatments are available, depending on the root cause. Usually, this condition is diagnosed by a urologist, and he or she generally takes charge of the treatment plan as well.

The hallmark of urethral stenosis is difficulty urinating. People may experience pain or burning sensations when they try to urinate, or they may develop muscle spasms and twinges. Because of the increased strain caused by difficulty urinating, this condition can lead to secondary inflammations and infections, and sometimes the condition is discovered when people seek treatment for these secondary problems.

In some cases, urethral stenosis is congenital, meaning that someone was born with it. Cases of congenital urethral stenosis usually become apparent within a few years of birth, when a child seems to have difficulty urinating or has trouble with potty training. This sometimes requires surgical correction, to widen the ureter so that it is easier to urinate.

This condition can also arise in response to an inflammation or infection. Some sexually transmitted infections, for example, cause a constriction of the urethra. Growths of bacteria in the urethra can cause pain and burning when people attempt to urinate, or they can clog the ureter, making it difficult to urinate. Infections which affect the bladder and urinary tract are known as “cystitis,' and they can be quite dangerous if they reach the kidneys. Cysts in the urinary tract can also cause this condition, as can blockages like kidney stones or tumors.

When a patient presents with what appears to be urethral stenosis, many doctors like to start with a urine culture, to see if the problem is being caused by an infection. Doctors may also order a urogram, an image of the urinary tract, to look for blockages like stones and cysts or to check for congenital urethral stenosis. In the event that the cause of the blockage is an infection, antibiotics will often resolve the issue, along with anti-inflammatory drugs to make the patient more comfortable. Stones and cysts may indicate a need for surgery to correct the issue, while tumors typically require the use of radiation and chemotherapy in addition to surgery.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon964427 — On Aug 05, 2014

Does a urethral stone spasm lead to clitoral stimulation as the spasm begins?

By anon251050 — On Feb 28, 2012

For a previous poster, urethral issues can go hand in hand with weak erections. My issues are also with an enlarged prostate, which squeezes the urethra and of course prostate issues can cause erectile and sex issues as well.

By anon135206 — On Dec 17, 2010

I had urethral stenosis as a child, and it was very humiliating to me, as one of the first symptoms was scratching of this area especially at night. I did not like to go to the bathrooms when traveling or at school because they were usually "dirty". This was in the early sixties in Texas and many bathrooms had "ringworms" on the toilet seats. Please go into the psychological effects of this disorder. Thank you.

By anon97095 — On Jul 18, 2010

Can a urethral stenosis be a cause for weak erections?

By anon74527 — On Apr 02, 2010

Very relevant and useful information is provided under urethral stenosis.

"What is urethral dilation?" Isn't the proper term here is dilatation?

Thanks for the information.

By anon44787 — On Sep 10, 2009

"Urethral stenosis is a medical condition characterized by a blockage in the ureter, the tube which drains fluid from the bladder to the outside of the body."

Isn't urethral stenosis blockage of the "urethra," not the "ureter"?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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