Painful Urination

What is it and what causes it?

Painful urination (dysuria) is pain or burning with urination, usually felt in the tube that carries urine out of your bladder (urethra) or the area surrounding your genitals. Anyone may experience bouts of painful urination–although more common in women, men still frequently suffer from dysuria. For women, the most common cause of painful urination is a urinary tract infection (UTI). In men, urinary tract infections are less common, so painful urination is most commonly caused by urethritis and certain prostate conditions. However, painful urination can be caused by a number of different conditions, including:

  • STI’s (chlamydia, gonorrhea)
  • Cystitis (bladder infection)
  • Genital herpes
  • Kidney infection
  • Prostatitis (prostate inflammation)
  • Vaginitis (vaginal infection)
  • Yeast infection (vaginal)

Signs & symptoms that are cause for concern

If you are suffering from painful urination that is severe or is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible. These symptoms can be an indication of a serious problem that requires treatment as soon as possible.

  • You have drainage or discharge from your penis or vaginal area
  • Your painful urination persists for several days
  • You see blood in your urine
  • You have a fever
  • You have back pain or pain in your side (flank pain)
  • You pass a kidney or bladder stone

What do I do?

If you are suffering from painful urination, it is very important to know when to call your doctor, how to get the necessary treatment, and how to prevent this pain in the future.


Painful urination usually requires an evaluation by a health care professional and should not be treated without medical supervision. Because painful urination is often caused by UTI’s, it is often treated with antibiotics. If the cause of the dysuria is not infectious, your health care professional may order further tests and treatments.


  • Urinating at bedtime and after sexual intercourse
  • Not holding urine for an excessive amount of time
  • Good hygiene
  • Avoiding any irritating product on the outside of your genitals
  • Using protection during sexual intercourse to reduce the risk of obtaining an STI


Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS)
Village C West 206
(202) 687-4357

Student Health Center
Darnall Hall Ground Floor
To make an appt: (202) 687-2200
After hours clinician on-call: (202) 444-7243

Georgetown University Hospital
3800 Reservoir Road
Emergency Room
Call 911