The most common reasons why it burns when you pee

Burning with urination, also called “dysuria,” is a frequent symptom that can have multiple underlying causes and can affect both men and women. The most common cause is an infection, but it is always best to speak to a healthcare provider to help determine the best course of treatment. 

Reasons why it hurts to pee

Here are five of the most common reasons why you might be experiencing this painful symptom.

1. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

One of the most common causes of burning pee is a urinary tract infection. This type of infection starts in the bladder (which is why UTIs are also commonly referred to as “bladder infections.”) 

If left untreated, the infection can spread higher up the urinary tract into the kidneys, which causes a serious infection called pyelonephritis. Burning with urination is often one of the first signs of a UTI, and indicates the need for a prompt medical evaluation.

2. Sexually transmitted infection (STI)

Sexually transmitted infections (STI), also called STDs, can cause burning pee. This may include infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomonas. These may not only cause burning with urination, but they can also cause penile or vaginal discharge.

If you’re experiencing this symptom and have risk factors for an STI, including unprotected sex, sex with a new partner or sex with multiple partners, it’s essential to be evaluated for STIs.

3. Bladder or urethra inflammation

It’s possible to experience burning with urination in the absence of an infection. This is commonly caused by inflammation in the bladder, a condition known as interstitial cystitis. This type of inflammation of the bladder is typically chronic. Symptoms are usually mild to severe pain during urination and in the pelvic area. 

Inflammation can also occur in the urethra or the tube that runs from the bladder to outside the body, known as urethritis. Typically this type of inflammation is caused by an STI, such as gonorrhea, but can have other underlying causes. 

They are typically diagnosed by a urologist. Several treatments are available to alleviate the dysuria patients with these conditions often experience.

4. Vaginal infection 

Another reason why it hurts to pee is an infection in the vagina. Since the opening of the vagina is close to the urethra, patients with vaginal infections can experience burning with urination. The pain during urination is typically worse if there is inflammation of the vulva that is caused by the infection. Common vaginal infections that cause dysuria include yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and trichomonas. 

5. Prostate infection 

Since the prostate sits near the bladder, men with a prostate infection, known as prostatitis, can experience burning with urination. This type of infection can also cause other symptoms such as fevers, pelvic pain and back pain. Healthcare providers often perform a urinalysis and a prostate exam to evaluate patients for this condition to determine the best course of treatment. 

Questions to expect from the doctor

The goal of seeing a healthcare provider is to help determine why it hurts to pee. Your provider will then seek a diagnosis to determine the underlying cause of the pain, and to provide the right type of treatment. 

Your visit will likely include a physical exam, as well as a detailed history of when your symptoms started. Some questions to expect from your provider include: 

  • When did the symptoms begin?
  • Are you urinating or feeling the urge to urinate more often? 
  • Does the pain happen while urinating? Or does it hurt at the end when you pee? 
  • Do you have any other symptoms, such as back pain, fever, or a rash? 
  • Is there discharge or drainage between urination? 
  • Are there any abnormal smells or blood in the urine? 
  • Have you had sexual intercourse with someone who has an STI? 
  • Are you pregnant or could you be pregnant? 

These questions will help guide the healthcare practitioner in determining the need for further testing, such as a urinalysis or ultrasound. The physical exam and results will determine the appropriate treatment. 

How to stop burning sensation after urinating

When you are experiencing painful urination, you want the pain to stop right away. The most effective way to stop the burning sensation is to see a healthcare provider who can evaluate the underlying cause of the burning pee. 

But until you are able to get an evaluation, there are a few things you can do to reduce the pain. These include:

  • Apply a warm compress. Put a heating pad or warm towel on the lower abdominal area to soothe the bladder. 
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is found in most fruits and vegetables and is an important nutrient for immune health, helping fight off infections.
  • Over-the-counter pain relief. There are a few medications available over the counter that can temporarily help relieve urinary pain until you are able to see a healthcare provider.
  • Stay hydrated. Concentrated urine can make pain and inflammation worse. Although you may want to avoid drinking water to urinate less often, water can actually help reduce some of the inflammation or bacteria causing the infection.

Visit urgent care for UTI/STI treatment

If you need help assessing and treating painful urination, come see the experts at one of our urgent care locations. You can walk in without an appointment, or save your spot online. We’ll have you back to feeling better in no time.

Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant