Why does it hurt when I pee?

Published March 15 2024 inSexual Health
stopwatch3 minutes read

Experiencing discomfort when you urinate?

You’re likely dealing with dysuria, a term that means painful urination. While experiencing discomfort during urination can be harmless, it could also indicate something far more serious, like a sexually transmitted infection.

Defining dysuria: painful urination explained

Dysuria is the technical term for painful or uncomfortable urination. It’s a common symptom of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted infections. While more common in women, dysuria affects men too.


Typical manifestations of dysuria include:

  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Itching
  • A frequent need to urinate

What STIs can cause dysuria?

When talking about dysuria and STIs, it’s important to understand why these infections may cause painful urination.

Infections usually trigger an immune response in the body, and in many cases, this immune response causes inflammation at the site of infection. This inflammation, along with the damage caused to the tissue by the bacteria, virus, or parasite that causes the infection, is what causes the pain that most people experience during dysuria.

Here are some infections that can cause it.


Chlamydia is an STI caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. This bacterial infection is usually spread through unprotected sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) or through sharing sex toys. It can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby during childbirth.

Most people with Chlamydia don’t notice any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Pain while urinating
  • Discharge from the vagina, penis, or rectum
  • Pain in the tummy (women)
  • Bleeding after sex (women)
  • Pain and swelling in the testicles (men)


Gonorrhoea, sometimes called “the clap”, is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can affect various parts of the body, including the genitals, throat, rectum, and eyes. In rare cases, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause a global gonococcal infection.

Like Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea spreads through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex, as well as via shared sex toys that haven’t been properly cleaned or covered with a new condom.

Typical symptoms include:

  • In men:
    • Painful urination
    • Painful defecation
    • Discharge from the anus
    • Sore throat
    • Conjunctivitis
    • Painful, itchy, or swollen testicles
    • White, yellow, or green discharge from the penis
  • In women:
    • Painful urination
    • Lower abdominal pain
    • Itching or pain around the vagina
    • Painful defecation
    • Sore throat
    • Conjunctivitis
    • Unusual yellow or green discharge from the vagina
    • Bleeding between periods
    • Pain during sex
    • Discharge from the anus

Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes is part of the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) family. There are two types of this virus:

  1. HSV-1: typically causes cold sores around the mouth.
  2. HSV-2: typically causes sores on and around the genitals.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes include:

  • Small blisters that burst, leaving red, open sores around the genitals, anus, thighs, or buttocks. The appearance of these sores may be different on brown or black skin.
  • Tingling, burning, or itching sensations around the genitals
  • Pain during urination
  • Unusual discharge from the genital area
  • Flu-like symptoms


Trichomonas is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. In women, this parasite infects the vagina and the urethra. In men, the parasite infects the urethra, but it can also involve the head of the penis or the prostate.

Symptoms include:

  • Women:
    • Abnormal vaginal discharge (thick, thin, or frothy) with an unpleasant fishy smell
    • Soreness, swelling, and itching around the vagina
    • Pain or discomfort during urination or sex
  • Men:
    • Pain during urination or ejaculation
    • Frequent urination
    • Thin, white discharge from the penis


Mycoplasma shares many characteristics with Chlamydia. It primarily infects the urogenital tract, including the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, urethra, and epididymis.

Symptoms can include:

In women:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Lower pelvic pain
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Bleeding between periods

In men:

  • Pain on urinating
  • Discharge from the urethra
  • Penile irritation and pain


Ureaplasma is a genus of bacteria that primarily infects the genitals and urinary tract. Ureaplasma is commonly found in up to 70% of sexually active adults and often goes unnoticed because, for most people, it is harmless.

When symptoms occur during a Ureaplasma infection, they can include:

  • Inflammation of the genitals
  • Pain during urination
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Lower stomach pain
  • Unusual discharge from the genitals

Can these infections be cured?

With the exception of Genital Herpes, all these infections can be cured with antibiotics, sometimes with a single dose. And while a Genital Herpes infection cannot be fully cured, the symptoms and outbreaks can be effectively managed with medication.

Final thoughts

Painful urination can potentially be a sign that you need to seek medical attention. If you’re experiencing painful urination, concerned about a recent sexual encounter, or simply worried that you may have been exposed to an STI, you should get tested.

Call the number at the top of this page to speak to one of our trained Sexual Health Advisors or book an STI screen at a sexual health clinic near you.


Mike has been delivering world class Sexually Transmitted Infections testing services to Better2Know patients around the world for over ten years. He has written extensively on the subject, including numerous blogs for Better2Know which are designed to demystify the complex intricacies of sexual health testing. Mike wants to help his readers understand the risks they take in their daily sexual lives and provide the information they need when choosing an STI or STD test in a clear, concise and understandable way. Mike is particularly interested in writing about viral STIs like HIV and Hepatitis, as these infections can have a devastating impact on people’s lives if they are not diagnosed quickly. Only through being well informed can you best care for your health, and Mike is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience to help you and all his readers lead a happier, healthier life.