Home Symptoms Burning when urinating: causes, diagnosis, therapy

Burning when urinating: causes, diagnosis, therapy

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 229 views

A burning sensation when urinating (medical: Alguria) makes going to the toilet a torture. The cause is usually in the urinary tract. For example, the urethra, renal pelvis or prostate can be inflamed. Bladder stones also cause pain when urinating. In addition, sexually transmitted diseases (venereal diseases) are possible triggers for the symptoms. Read more about urinary burning and its treatment here.

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  • Causes: often inflammation of the urinary tract (e.g. urethritis , cystitis), sometimes bladder stones , venereal diseases ( syphilis , gonorrhea, chlamydia infection, Ulcus molle etc.), diseases of the prostate or bladder cancer
  • What helps with burning when urinating? depending on the cause e.g. E.g. drink enough, always empty your bladder completely, keep your abdomen warm, use condoms , wipe from front to back, have the underlying illness treated by a doctor (e.g. with medication)
  • When to the doctor? If it occurs for the first time or suddenly and/or other symptoms such as blood in the urine , fever, chills, pain in the lower abdomen or blisters in the genital area.

Burning when urinating: causes and possible diseases

Painful urination is a common reason why people in this country consult a doctor. This is not surprising, because the symptoms can be very unpleasant. There can be various causes behind the painful burning sensation when urinating:

bacterial inflammation

In most cases, bacterial inflammation in the urinary tract is the reason for the burning sensation when urinating, such as inflammation of the urethra (urethritis) or inflammation of the bladder (cystitis). Women are more prone than men to the latter:

Kidneys, bladder and urethra are structured almost identically in men and women. In women, however, the urethra is about three centimeters long, much shorter than in men – this makes it easier for pathogens to get up the urethra into the bladder and start an inflammation here. Most of the time, these germs are Escherichia coli (E. coli) gut bacteria: if you wipe from back to front after going to the toilet (rather than the other way around, which would be right), you’re easily bringing these and other gut bacteria close by the urinary opening.

In addition to pain in the lower abdomen, the nagging urge to urinate is typical of a bladder infection, although only a little urine is excreted (dysuria).

If the bladder infection is left untreated, the pathogens can continue up the urinary tract and lead to inflammation of the renal pelvis (pyelonephritis). Those affected have a strong feeling of illness and fever. In addition to the burning sensation when urinating, there is also severe pain in the kidney area in the case of inflammation of the renal pelvis.

Diabetics and pregnant women in particular are more often affected by inflamed urinary tracts.

Diseased prostate

In men, prostate disease can cause burning when urinating. With advancing age, urethritis or bladder infections become more common because the prostate enlarges and restricts the flow of urine. Risk factors also include unprotected anal intercourse and the presence of a urinary catheter.

In addition, inflammation of the prostate ( prostatitis ) can cause acute or chronic pain when urinating. Pain during bowel movements, in the perineal area and pelvis and – in the case of acute inflammation – fever and chills can also occur.

Inflammation of the prostate is usually caused by bacteria that have entered the prostate gland via the urethra. However, germs are not detectable in every prostatitis.

Painful bladder cancer

A burning sensation when urinating can also be an indication of bladder cancer (bladder carcinoma). As with most malignant tumours, bladder cancer does not initially show any symptoms that indicate the disease. The first sign is usually blood in the urine. In the advanced stage, however, urination can also be difficult and/or a burning sensation can occur.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sometimes pain when urinating is associated with sexual diseases, that is, infectious diseases transmitted through unprotected sex:

  • Syphilis (hard chancre): The venereal disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum has been on the rise again for several years, especially in men. It runs in several stages. Initially, ulcers often form on the vulva or penis , which can cause pain when urinating.
  • Gonorrhea: This bacterial sexually transmitted disease typically triggers inflammation of the urinary and genital organs (among other things with burning when urinating and purulent discharge from the urethra). Oral and anal sex can also cause inflammation in the throat and rectum. However, many infected people show no symptoms at all.
  • Genital herpes: Herpes genitalis (like cold sores) is triggered by herpes simplex viruses. Once infected with them, they remain in the body permanently – most of the time “dormant”. However, you can “wake up” from it at any time and then cause symptoms – in the case of genital herpes itchy and sometimes very painful blisters in the genital area.
  • Chlamydia infections: This widespread bacterial sexually transmitted disease can cause inflammation of the urinary and genital organs, including burning when urinating and a purulent discharge. However, many chlamydia infections remain asymptomatic.
  • Ulcus molle (soft chancre): The cause is the bacterium Haemophilus ducreyi . Typical symptoms of an infection are soft, painful ulcers in the genital area, for example on the glans of the penis or the labia ). Depending on their location, they can cause a burning sensation when urinating.
  • Mycoplasma infection: Mycoplasma are very small, cell wall-less bacteria that parasitize other cells (including bacterial cells). Among other things, they can cause inflammation in the area of ​​the urinary and genital organs (e.g. urethritis, vaginal inflammation). Then urination can be painful.
  • Bacterial vaginal infection: Infection of the vagina with bacteria (bacterial vaginosis) is very common – in many cases, however, the women affected have no symptoms. Sometimes, however, the infection can also make itself felt with a burning sensation when urinating and, above all, with a foul-smelling discharge and itching.
  • Trichomonas infection: Trichomonads are flagellates. They need a constantly moist environment, such as that found in the vagina, for example. Therefore, especially women are affected by a trichomoniasis infection. A burning sensation in the vagina and a pungent discharge that can be yellowish-green and frothy are typical symptoms.

bladder stones

Bladder stones are often behind a burning sensation when urinating. These usually form in the bladder itself, but sometimes also in the renal pelvis , from where they are then washed into the bladder with the urine. Most bladder stones are made of potassium salts, but some are made of uric acid or other salts. The stones themselves do not initially cause pain. However, if they block the bladder’s duct, it can result in severe pain when urinating. Other signs of such bladder stones are, for example, blood in the urine and colicky lower abdominal pain.

Other causes

In women, a dry vagina or an inflamed vagina ( called vaginitis or vaginitis) can also cause burning when urinating. Women going through the menopause particularly suffer from vaginal dryness; but sometimes younger women are also affected. Vaginal inflammation can be caused by pathogens, but can also have other causes (e.g. irritants in bubble baths).

Occasionally there is a burning sensation when urinating because a foreign object (such as a urinary catheter ) was inserted into the urethra or the urethra was injured during intercourse .

In rare cases, burning when urinating is a side effect of a gastrointestinal infection .

What helps with burning when urinating?

You can often do something yourself to get rid of the unpleasant feeling when urinating – especially if it is caused by a harmless urinary tract infection. In other cases, medical treatment is necessary.

Burning when urinating: You can do that yourself

If it burns when urinating, you should still make sure you drink enough – even if urinating afterwards causes pain. Drinks with plant-based active ingredients, which have a diuretic effect and thus support the excretion of germs, help with urinary tract infections in particular. These include cowberry, cranberry, nettle , bearberry , juniper , nasturtium, and horseradish.

To prevent burning when urinating (e.g. as a result of a bladder infection or an STD), you should heed the following advice:

  • Drink at least two liters of fluids a day.
  • Always empty your bladder completely (residual urine in the bladder is a good breeding ground for germs).
  • Keep your abdomen warm.
  • Always run the toilet paper from front to back when cleaning.
  • Avoid exaggerated personal hygiene.
  • Use condoms to protect yourself from STDs while having sex.
  • After intercourse, go to the toilet to urinate. This is how you flush out pathogens – the risk of an infection-related burning sensation when urinating decreases.

Burning when urinating: what does the doctor do?

In order to be able to effectively treat burning sensation when urinating, the doctor must first clarify the cause.


A burning sensation when urinating leads most patients to their family doctor first . But a gynecologist or urologist can also help.

The first step is to collect the medical history in a detailed conversation (anamnesis). The doctor will ask, for example, how long you have had the pain when urinating, how severe it is and whether you have any other symptoms (e.g. discharge, abdominal pain). The doctor also inquires about previous and underlying diseases (e.g. diabetes, previous bladder cancer).

urine test can determine whether a bacterial infection of the urinary tract is behind the burning sensation when urinating. Cloudiness and a strong odor in the urine also indicate bacterial infestation. The nitrite content in the urine can be measured using test strips; it can indicate certain bacteria.

If everything points to an uncomplicated urinary tract infection, a physical examination is not a must. However, it follows when the symptoms are less clear and the person concerned complains, for example, in addition to burning when urinating, discharge in the intimate area. In men, these symptoms can indicate a sexually transmitted disease, and in women there is also the possibility of a vaginal yeast infection. The microscopic examination of a smear can provide information here.

Blood tests show whether certain levels of inflammation in the blood are elevated. This would be the case, for example, with prostate or renal pelvic inflammation. An ultrasound scan can be used to diagnose kidney stones or bladder cancer, for example. With the help of the so-called excretory urography – a special form of X-ray examination – tumors or kidney malformations can be detected. Sometimes a look into the bladder is also necessary, via an endoscopic examination of the bladder (cystoscopy).


Treatment for burning urination depends on the cause. If a bacterial infection is the cause of your symptoms, the doctor will prescribe you antibiotics. In the case of a fungal infection, on the other hand, you will be given antifungal agents (fungicides).

If necessary, the doctor will also prescribe painkillers to make it easier to go to the toilet again. This can be particularly necessary with painful bladder stones. Such stones can often be eliminated with medication or removed as part of a cystoscopy. Sometimes they are also shattered by shock waves. It rarely needs to be surgically removed.

Individually tailored treatment is also necessary for bladder cancer (surgery, chemotherapy, etc.).

Burning when urinating: when do you need to see a doctor?

If the pain when urinating comes on suddenly and for the first time, you should consult a doctor. Anyone who has often suffered from an uncomplicated urinary tract infection usually waits and tries to get the inflammation under control with home remedies – often with success. Nevertheless, even “experienced” patients should consult a doctor if the burning sensation during urination worsens. This is especially true if the following symptoms also occur:

  • blood in the urine
  • urinary retention
  • noticeable discharge from the penis or vagina
  • stabbing pain in lower abdomen
  • pain in the flanks
  • Ulcers or blisters in the intimate area
  • Fever
  • chills
  • nausea
  • Vomit

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