The urethra's main job in males and females is to pass urine outside the body. This thin tube also has an important role in ejaculation for men. When a scar from swelling, injury, or infection blocks or slows the flow of urine in this tube, it is called a urethral stricture. Some people feel pain with a urethral stricture.
The bladder empties through the urethra and out of the body (called voiding). The female urethra is much shorter than the males. In males, urine must travel a longer distance from the bladder through the penis.
In males, the first 1" to 2" of the urethra that urine passes through is called the posterior urethra. The posterior urethra includes:
Strictures that happen in the first 1" to 2" of the urethra that urine passes through are called posterior strictures.
In males, the final 9" to 10" of the urethra is called the anterior urethra. The anterior urethra includes:
Strictures that happen in the last 9" to 10" of the urethra that urine passes through are called anterior strictures.
Men are more likely to have a urethral disease or injury because of their longer urethra. For this reason, strictures are more common in men. They are rare in women and in infants.
Stricture (narrowing of the urethra) can happen at any point from the bladder to the tip of the penis. This narrowing restricts or slows the flow of urine. Some common causes are:
In most cases, no cause can be found.
In adults, urethral strictures are most often due to:
Simply put, the urethra is like a garden hose. When there is a kink or narrowing along with the hose, no matter how short or long, the flow is reduced. When a stricture is narrow enough to decrease urine flow, you will have symptoms. Problems with urinating, UTIs, and swelling or infections of the prostate may occur. A severe blockage that lasts a long time can damage the kidneys.
Some signs are:
There are several tests to determine if you have a urethral stricture including:
There are many options depending on the size of the blockage and how much scar tissue is involved.