Urethral Syndrome

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

Though its symptoms are related to symptoms of urethritis (inflammation of the urethra caused by bacteria or virus), urethral syndrome does not develop directly as a result of any bacteria or virus. It is a set of symptoms that may suggest a lower urinary tract infection. Symptoms include abdominal pain, menstrual complaints, pain during intercourse, frequent and painful urination.

Urethral syndrome is common amongst women and may be caused by factors such as urethra narrowing, urethra irritation or injury. Urethra irritation can be caused by use of some scented products, chemotherapy, radiation, sanitary towels etc. Cycling, sexual activity, douching, tampons and diaphragms can cause injury to the urethra. Women may acquire symptoms from wearing tight thong underwear or jeans (especially when worn without underwear). Risk factors include history of sexually transmitted diseases, bacterial infection of other parts of the urinary tract, medications that reduce immune functions etc.

To diagnose urethral syndrome, all forms of infections and local vaginal conditions should be excluded. Though not a fatal condition, urethral syndrome can result in some psychological morbidities (such as depression, distress, low mood etc) that could impair the quality of life.

The goal of treatment is to relieve discomfort and urinary frequency. It involves the use of behavioral, dietary and medical therapy. Medical therapy involves the use of muscle relaxations, antispasmodics, hormone replacement etc. Dietary therapy is geared at increasing urinary pH, while behavioural therapy includes biofeedback (involves training patients to improve their health by controlling certain involuntary physiological processes).






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