From time to time, every human finds themselves Googling, "Why does it burn when I pee?" And then shortly thereafter, "Oh, please make it stop!" Sound familiar?—you're far from alone. Burning while peeing isn't just annoying and unpleasant, it can be really scary if you don't know what's causing it. Here are a few common reasons you may be experiencing a little extra fire when you go #1—and some easy strategies for cooling things off downstairs.
Why does it burn when I pee?
Nearly all humans with a vagina will experience a burning sensation while urinating at various points in their lives. But, painful peeing isn't just unpleasant, it's incredibly disruptive to day-to-day life. Frequent episodes of needing to pee strike while at work, driving, or on a hot date—most often we try to ignore the impulse, but pretending nothing is wrong never works in the long run. And since not peeing isn't a viable solution, it's essential you have a plan in place for the second you first experience symptoms.
There are a few common reasons for painful urination, which is also known as "dysuria." Here are some things that could be causing it for you and what to do when you're experiencing this super-unpleasant sensation.
It hurts when I pee!
U-T-I: those three letters mark a very common culprit behind burning pee. A UTI, or urinary tract infection, happens when bacteria travels into the urinary tract as the result of some common activities, like having sex, as well as using certain types of birth control. UTIs can affect your bladder, urethra, ureters or kidneys. Statistically speaking, women get these annoying and painful infections more than men do simply because their urethras are shorter.
If you feel like you have to pee all the time, it hurts to pee, and/or you have burning when you pee (especially at the end of the urinary stream) you may very well have a UTI. You're going to need a round of antibiotics to take care of the infection. Untreated UTIs can spread, sometimes even causing a kidney infection and hospitalization—better to not make this manageable problem worse.
If you leave your UTI untreated, it can become much more dangerous. Bladder infections can easily become serious kidney infections. It also becomes more expensive to treat, and means it will take longer before you can get back to normal. Seek out the proper treatment (even from home!) so you can cure the infection and get back to pee that, you know, doesn't burn!
Here are a few things that make it more likely for someone to get a UTI:
- You've had one before
- You use spermicides
- You use a diaphragm
- You have kidney stones or another condition that blocks your urinary tract
And if you're one of the many humans with a vagina who come down with UTIs frequently, here are a few things you can do to prevent them:
- Stay hydrated
- Wipe from front to back
- Pee after having sex!
You can also try a D-Mannose supplement. D-Mannose is a natural way to flush bacteria from your urinary tract to stop UTIs before they start. You can use it as part of your care routine, or just when you know you may be at higher risk for a UTI (like when you go on a romantic getaway or know you'll be doing some partying).
But how do I make it stop burning when I pee?
If you still do get a UTI, don't worry. It happens! Just make sure you take a full course of UTI antibiotics so you can feel better. Clearing the infection quickly is the most important thing you can do to avoid pain, long-term damage, or an expensive trip to the emergency room. Common treatment for a UTI includes:
- Amoxicillin/Clavulanic Acid
- Sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim)
In addition to clearing the infection, managing the painful symptoms of UTI can be a handful, causing sick days and long uncomfortable nights. Taking Pyridium in conjunction with antibiotics reduces or eliminates UTI pain, burning and the frequent need to pee. Pyridium requires a prescription, but can be safely prescribed along with antibiotics.
What does it mean when your pee burns? Could be an STI.
Look!—another three-letter answer to, "What does it mean when it stings when I pee?" Many sexually transmitted infections have "burns when I pee" on their list of symptoms. Keep in mind, though, that many don't have any symptoms, so it's important to get STI tested regularly even if your pee is just fine. That said, many STIs lead to inflammation and sensitivity of the urethra, vulva, and/or vaginal tissue, which in turn cause the burning sensation you're experiencing.
Some STIs that can cause pain when peeing include:
You should also be on the lookout for abnormal discharge with these. If you think you may have an STI, don't put off getting tested. These are way more common than you probably imagine, and online treatment can be as simple as a single round of medication with wisp.
Vagina hurt from peeing? Could be a Yeast Infection.
Another common culprit of sharp pain while peeing? Yeast Infections. That uncomfortable burning sensation could be a result of an overgrowth of yeast in your vagina. Look out for these other symptoms that go along with the burning:
- Swollen or red vulva
- Irritated or itchy vulva and vagina
- Sore vagina
- Rash in or around the vagina
- Watery discharge or discharge that doesn't smell but looks like cottage cheese
Antifungal medications for Yeast Infection usually make this an easy fix. Some over-the-counter yeast infection remedies, such as Boric Acid, are very effective, but there is always a concern about recurrence if the infection is not properly cleared. It's always a good idea to consult with a doctor if you think you have a chronic yeast infection as some STIs share the same symptoms. Fluconazole is a powerful prescription antifungal that can often cure a yeast infection with just 1 pill.
If you're getting yeast infections four or more times a year, you should also check with a doctor so they can prescribe a longer treatment plan. That will help you get back to normal!
Bacterial Vaginosis can also cause burning when you pee
Bacterial Vaginosis, also known as BV, comes with many symptoms similar to a regular old yeast infection. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's the most common vaginal condition to arise between the age of 15 and 44.
You have "good" bacteria and "bad" bacteria in your vagina, and they hold a delicate balance. When they get thrown off balance thanks to normal sexual activity or topical hygienic products, etc., BV can be the result. Discharge that smells fishy along with burning when you pee is a common hint that you're dealing with BV. A doctor can do some simple tests to clarify if you have BV or a yeast infection. If you experience BV, you can clear your symptoms by taking antibiotics for Bacterial Vaginosis.
Other Reasons for Slight Burning During Urination
There are some other culprits to what causes pain while urinating besides infections. These include:
- Vaginal tears. This can happen from sex, or from giving birth. Either way, pouring some warm water on your vagina can help with the pain
- Irritation from feminine hygiene products. Repeat after us: your vagina is not dirty! Society has lead plenty of humans with vaginas to believe that this is a dirty area, but this body part has plenty of natural mechanisms to keep pH balance. Using perfumes, deodorizers and douches can actually throw your vagina's "self-cleaning" out of whack and cause irritation
No matter what's causing your painful peeing, keep some important pointers in mind. First, you're not the only one! Humans with vaginas have had this problem since the beginning of time, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Second, we have plenty of easy treatment options these days. So if you're frantically googling "after I pee, I have a burning sensation," know that relief is very possible. Take an Online Symptoms Quiz to diagnose your problem, then get the right treatment so you can get back to peeing pain-free.