Why Does It Burn When I Pee? 5 Possible Causes

Medical review: Dr. Sheila Sedicias
Gynecologist
October 2022

Burning during urination is usually a sign of a urinary tract infection, in most cases. This condition is most common in women, but can happen in men. Other common UTI symptoms include vladder heaviness, frequent urgency to urinate and general malaise.  

Burning during urination is also referred to as dysuria, which is a medical term for discomfort when peeing. However, this term encompasses all causes of painful urination, and may not always be associated with a burning sensation. 

Feeling burning when peeing can indicate other urinary or gynecological problems, like a yeast infection, STI, or a reaction to a chemical or product. It is important to consult a doctor when this symptom persists for longer than 2 or 3 days so that a cause can be identified and treatment may be initiated. 

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The possible causes of burning during urination include:

1. UTI

A UTI is the most frequent cause of burning when urinating. This infection is especially common in women due to the proximity of the urethra to the anus. They can also occur in men, especially in the presence of inadequate hygiene or unprotected anal sex. 

In addition to burning with urination, classic symptoms of a UTI include feeling your bladder is full, low grade fever, strong-smelling urine, general malaise, and difficulty holding your pee. Learn more about the most common UTI symptoms and use our online symptom checker if you suspect you may have a UTI. 

How to treat: You should take antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor for 3 to 7 days (duration depending on the infection severity). People with recurrent UTIs can consider supplementing with cranberry capsules. Learn more about the medications commonly prescribed for UTI treatment as well as home remedies you can add to your treatment plan to speed-up recovery. 

2. Yeast infection

A yeast infection emerges when there is excessive fungal growth in the genital area. It usually causes a sensation of burning during urination. This infection is most common in women due to constant moisture in the area, however it can also occur due to a weakened immune system, after a cold or after using antibiotics. 

Some symptoms of a yeast infection include genital itching, redness, white discharge and pain during sex. Women may additionally notice vaginal burning, which can be very uncomfortable. 

How to treat: Treatment is usually quick and completed with antifungals like miconazole or isoconazole. You should maintain adequate genital hygiene and opt for cotton underwear to prevent sweating and moisture in the area. Check out other home remedies for yeast infections as well as diet suggestions that you can consider as a complement to your medical treatment. 

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3. STI

Although they are not as common, sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) are also one of the most common causes of burning with urination, especially chlamydia and trichomoniasis. These infections are easily transmitted through unprotected sex, therefore it is important to use a condom when applicable, especially if you have multiple sexual partners.

Common symptoms that usually emerge with STIs are yellow, foul-smelling discharge, bleeding, burning when urinating and itchiness. To diagnose an STI, the doctor will likely order urine tests and/or a swab culture to be tested in the lab. 

How to treat: Treatment almost always involves the use of oral antibiotics, like metronidazole or azithromycin, however exact medications and dosing depend on the STI diagnosed. These infections should be treated as quickly as possible to avoid complications like infertility or pelvic inflammatory disease. 

4. Small genital wounds 

Small wounds in the genital area can irritate the surrounding tissue which worsens during urination, causing burning, pain or even bleeding. These types of wounds are most common in women, due to friction that occurs during sex, however they can also occur in men. 

How to treat: Usually, burning will resolve within 2 or 3 days, when the wounds have healed. During this time, avoid sexual contact and be sure to drink plenty of water to prevent urine from getting too concentrated.

5. Using genital hygiene products 

There are many products used specifically for genital hygiene, especially for women, like creams, deodorants and soaps. Some of these products can cause irritation or even change genital pH levels, which can lead to burning during urination. There is no need to change naturally occurring odors, and these products are usually not necessary most of the time.

After using the products, some people notice burning with constant itching and redness in the genital area, which may improve following a shower.

How to treat: If you notice symptoms after using a new genital hygiene products, cleanse the area with warm water and a mild soap to see if symptoms improve. If they do not, discontinue use of the product indefinitely. 

Lab tests

The main exam used to identify the cause for burning during urnation is an R&M urine test, in which the doctor will evaluate for the presence of blood, leukocytes or protein in the urine. These may indicate a UTI. 

However, the doctor may suspect or want to rule out other causes, and can additionally order a urine culture test, ultrasound or culture swab. 

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in October 2022. Medical review completed by Dr. Sheila Sedicias - Gynecologist in October 2022.
Medical review:
Dr. Sheila Sedicias
Gynecologist
Physician graduated in Mastology and Gynecology by UFPE in 2008 and member no. 17459 of CRM-PE, Brazil.