Possible reasons for painful urination

Painful urination (dysuria) is a term that describes discomfort during urination. This pain may start from the bladder or the urethra (the tube that carries urine outside your body). Painful urination is a common occurrence and can be caused by different conditions. Here are some reasons why you could be experiencing painful urination.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Painful urination is a common sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI is usually a result of a bacterial infection. It can also be due to inflammation of the urinary tract. Women are more likely to develop UTIs than men. This is because the urethra is shorter in women. Treatment involves antibiotics that must be prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

You may also experience pain when urinating if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Some STIs that may cause painful urination include genital herpes, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia. It’s important to be screened regularly for STIs, especially because not all STIs have symptoms. 

Kidney stones

Another cause for painful urination could be kidney stones. Kidney stones are masses of hardened material (stone like) located in the urinary tract. Kidney stones build up near the area where urine enters the bladder causing painful urination. Some stones, if left untreated, can cause your kidney to stop working completely. It’s advisable to see your healthcare provider whenever you experience painful urination.

Ovarian cysts

Much like kidney stones, ovarian cysts are an example of how something outside the bladder can press on it and cause painful urination, abdominal cramps and swelling. Ovarian cysts can develop on one or both ovaries, which sit on either side of the bladder. Your healthcare provider will be able to scan and detect for ovarian cysts.

Interstitial cystitis

Also known as bladder pain syndrome, interstitial cystitis is a condition that causes chronic irritation of the bladder lasting 6 weeks or more without an underlying infection. Although cystitis is not normally a serious condition, it can be uncomfortable and lead to complications if left untreated.

Hygiene sensitivity

Sometimes, chemicals that are external to the body, such as fragrances, can irritate bodily tissues. When a person urinates, this irritation may be more noticeable, and pain may occur. Products that can cause hygiene sensitivity include douches, soaps, scented toilet paper as well as some vaginal lubricants.

Vaginal infection or irritation

Vaginitis or vaginosis, is a vaginal infection that can occur due to the overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. An STI called trichomoniasis, can also cause a vaginal infection. The following symptoms may occur alongside painful urination; foul-smelling or unusual vaginal discharge, vaginal irritation and pain during intercourse.


Some medications, including antibiotics, may irritate and inflame bladder tissues. This can often cause pain when urinating. If you’ve started a new medication and begin to feel pain when urinating or notice any changes, you should call your healthcare provider and ask if the symptom may be a side effect of the drug. Remember not to stop any medication without consulting your healthcare provider.

Painful urination is a common occurrence which can be caused by many conditions. Most are usually related to a bacterial infection, but some can be more serious. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms I’ve mentioned, then it’s advisable to visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657)