What causes dysuria

Dysuria (painful urination): what it is and common reasons for it

Medically reviewed by Neka Miller, PhD on November 25, 2019. Written by Libby Pellegrini. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Painful urination, also known as dysuria, can feel like irritation, itching, or burning. It can also feel like a sharp, stabbing pain that radiates into the bladder. Needless to say, it’s uncomfortable.

If you’re experiencing painful urination, read more to learn about what dysuria is, how healthcare providers diagnose painful urination in men and women, and various painful urination treatment options. You can also discreetly check for one common cause of dysuria—a sexually transmitted infection—from the privacy of your own home with one of the Everlywell home STD tests.


Common causes

What causes painful urination? There are many causes of dysuria, and each has its own specific way of being diagnosed and treated.

Typically, dysuria is caused by irritation of the urethra, the passageway that leads from the bladder to the outside of the body, in both men and women. In women, certain types of vaginal discharge can also cause irritation at the external opening of the urethra.

For both men and women, dysuria can be caused by the following sexually transmitted infections (STIs):

  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Type 2 Herpes Simplex

Although dysuria isn’t associated with all STIs, it’s prudent to test for several STIs if you’re experiencing symptoms or think you may have been exposed.

For women, other common causes of painful urination include the following:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Chemical urethritis
  • Yeast infection
  • Bacterial vaginosis (a kind of vaginal infection)
  • Atrophic vaginitis
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Urinary tract obstruction (such as a kidney stone, tumor, or scar tissue)

In men, other common causes of painful urination include the following:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Chemical urethritis
  • Yeast infection
  • Urinary tract obstruction (such as an enlarged prostate, kidney stone, tumor, or scar tissue)
  • Prostatitis
  • Epididymitis

Certain health conditions may also be related to dysuria. When the immune system is weakened, such as in cases of diabetes, pregnancy, autoimmune disease, HIV, or cancer, you may be more susceptible to certain causes of urinary pain, such as urinary tract infections and yeast infections. You may also be more vulnerable to contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

Other causes of dysuria, such as atrophic urethritis and an enlarged prostate, may be related to hormonal changes and aging.

Seeking medical care

After careful evaluation of your personal health history and risk factors, it’s important to seek medical care for further assessment. Many causes of dysuria require some sort of physical assessment, particularly with a urogenital or pelvic examination.

Typically, a healthcare provider will obtain a urine sample from the patient to evaluate for dysuria. They may also test a vaginal or cervical swab (for females), a swab of the opening of the penis (in men), or a blood test.

A convenient way to get tested on your own time is with Everlywell at-home lab tests for men and women. These tests check for 6 STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, syphilis, hepatitis C, and HIV. If you receive a positive result, you have the option to connect with a healthcare provider to discuss treatment options, as applicable.

Everlywell also provides telehealth for STDs, offering access to treatments such as UTI antibiotics online and genital herpes online treatment through their platform. This convenient approach allows individuals to receive the care they need directly online, streamlining the process for managing and treating conditions effectively from the comfort of home.

If you’re experiencing dysuria with another symptom, such as a fever, abdominal pain, back pain, flank pain, or pelvic pain, it could represent a more urgent medical condition, and you may need additional testing. In these cases, it is recommended that you see your healthcare provider for medical evaluation as soon as possible.

Common questions

What is dysuria?

What does dysuria mean? The technical definition of dysuria is “painful urination.” In medical terms, dysuria simply refers to discomfort during urination, which can result from a multitude of causes, including infections transmitted during sexual intercourse (STIs).

How can I stop painful urination?

If you are a woman suffering from dysuria, you can take the Everlywell home STD test for women to check out your suspicions of STI exposure.

If you are a male with dysuria, and you are concerned you may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease, you can check privately using the Everlywell at-home STD test for men.

Who is most at risk of getting chlamydia?

When it comes to chlamydia, the most commonly affected age group is people ages 15 to 24 years old [1].

You can use an at-home chlamydia & gonorrhea test from Everlywell to easily check for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Everlywell makes lab testing easy and convenient with at-home collection and digital results in days. Learn More