Benign Urethral Lesions

The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. Benign urethral lesions can develop in or around the urethra, causing bleeding or painful urination, or blocking the urinary tract. When lesions do block the flow of urine, they can cause infection. Some urethral lesions respond to conservative treatments, whereas others must be treated surgically. Men and women of all ages can be affected.

Causes of Benign Urethral Lesions

Although the exact cause of benign urethral lesions varies from person to person, they can be caused by the following:

  • Injuries
  • Pelvic fractures
  • Abscesses
  • Surgical-instrument damage

Some urethral lesions are caused by sexually transmitted diseases.

Types of Benign Urethral Lesions

There are several different types of benign urethral lesions; symptoms and treatment vary depending on their type and location.

Noncancerous Growths

Noncancerous growths affect males more than females, and are often caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). These growths are visible on the urethral opening, and can cause changes to urinary flow. Additional symptoms include painful urination or blood in the urine.

Lichen Sclerosis

Lichen sclerosis is a chronic skin condition that affects the tip of the penis. It begins in early childhood, and continues throughout adulthood, eventually resulting in urethral stricture and difficulty urinating. Its exact cause is unknown, making it difficult to prevent. Symptoms may include itchiness, soreness, cracking of the skin, and in uncircumcised men, difficulty retracting the foreskin.

Paraurethral Cysts

Paraurethral cysts appear on a woman's paraurethral glands, located in the vaginal wall near the opening of the urethra; they are yellow or white in color. Symptoms of paraurethral cysts, which constrict the size of the urethral opening, include painful urination, an abnormal urine stream, or urinary obstruction.

Urethral Polyps

Urethral polyps are rare growths that affect females, often at birth. Symptoms of urethral polyps include blood in the urine, urinary obstruction or a lump on the vulva.

Urethral Caruncles

Urethral caruncles are especially common in postmenopausal women who do not use hormone-replacement therapy. A urethral caruncle is marked by a small reddish membrane jutting out from the urethral opening. Symptoms include frequent urination, blood in the urine, and pain or soreness around the urethra.

Treatment for Benign Urethral Lesions

Some types of benign urethral lesions do not require any treatment at all. In some cases, however, surgical drainage may be required if the lesion is restricting urinary flow. Additional treatments for benign urethral lesions include topical or oral antibiotics, or cystourethroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure that enables a physician to view the inside of the urethra with a tiny camera, and then remove any polyps.

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