Q: I'm a 52-year-old man. When I finish urinating, I drip much more then I used to. And I have a stinging sensation in my urethra. I've had the same partner for 32 years, so I don't think it's a sexually transmitted disease (STD). What might cause this?
A: What you're experiencing is a very common complaint. As we age, several things happen. One is some enlargement of the prostate gland. As the gland increases in size, the bladder (which stores urine) has to exert more pressure to get rid of the last drops of urine. When that happens, some of that pressure gets placed on the part of the bladder called the bladder neck.
However, you can also feel stinging sensations with either an infection in the bladder (urinary tract infection) or in the prostate gland (prostatitis). To be diligent, you should see your doctor to have your urine evaluated.
You raise the question of an STD. It's most unlikely. But it's good to discuss this with your doctor. He or she can check for an STD at the same time you submit a urine sample to look for a urinary tract infection. However, a 32-year monogamous relationship (and your partner attests to this, as well) and the absence of any milky or whitish penile discharge would argue against an STD.
The dripping sensation can also be a symptom of an enlarged prostate gland or an overactive bladder. Less likely, but also important to consider, is cancer of the prostate or bladder.
It would be wise to ask your doctor to perform a digital rectal exam. This assesses the prostate gland size and texture. If your prostate is enlarged, your doctor may suggest therapy for this condition.
Quite often, doctors don't find a specific reason for the types of symptoms you have. And initial treatment might not help. Certainly, this can be frustrating. But keep working with your doctor. It's very likely you will get some relief.
(Marc Garnick, M.D., is an internationally renowned expert in medical oncology. He is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and maintains an active oncology practice at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass.)
(For additional consumer health information, please visit http://www.health.harvard.edu.)
Stinging sensation in urethra could have several possible causes
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