Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?

Suffering from painful urination? It could be a sign of a more serious condition.

Urination should not be painful, even for short periods of time. Proper care can save you discomfort and pain, and it might even save your life. A doctor can help you decide whether your condition requires treatment.

Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?

Painful urination is also called dysuria, and men and women of any age can experience this symptom. A burning, stinging or itching sensation is the most commonly reported feeling. Some women will feel pain internally and externally. Male patients complain of pain persisting in the penis before and after urination. These painful symptoms may be accompanied by blood in the urine, cloudy or dark urine and the feeling of a full bladder even when it isn’t.

Causes of painful urination

If you are suffering from painful urination, there are several ailments and diseases that could be the culprit. They include:

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  • Bladder infection. Caused by bacteria in your urinary tract, this is the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI). Antibiotics and drinking lots of liquids to flush your system are used to treat infections.
  • Urinary tract stones. Akin to kidney stones, these small urinary crystals build up in your system, obstructing the urethra. Some stones are small enough to pass without treatment, but if they are large enough, they can irritate the bladder wall, block urine from passing and cause stomach pain. These stones may require medication or surgery to eliminate your pain.
  • Cancer. Because bladder cancer shares the same symptoms as a bladder infection, it can often be overlooked. That’s why it is especially important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Early detection is key to a favorable prognosis.
  • Enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate is not a cancer, but a change in hormone balance that causes pain and affects quality of life. This condition also mimics a bladder infection, with painful and frequent urination as one of the tell-tale symptoms. “It’s a quality of life issue, and that’s what usually brings the patient here,” said Leo R. Doumanian, MD, associate professor of clinical urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and urologist at Keck Medicine of USC. “As men age, they are more susceptible to an enlarged prostate; they seek treatment options when it affects their quality of life.”
  • Vaginal infection. Vaginitis is an infection with symptoms of painful urination, painful intercourse, light bleeding and a change in color, odor or amount of discharge. In serious cases, you might develop fever and chills.

By Heidi Tyline King


As with other medical conditions, discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor. If you are in the Southern California area and would like a consultation with a urologist, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit urology.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment to schedule an appointment.