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Urethral Stricture in Women

Last updated Dec. 24, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Urethral stricture is a narrowing of the urethra, usually due to a prior injury or infection. It blocks the flow of urine out of the body and may lead to various complications.

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • Anterior Urethral Stricture in Women
  • Posterior Urethral Stricture in Women
  • Urethral Stenosis in Women

What is Urethral Stricture in Women? (Definition/Background Information)

  • Urethral stricture is a narrowing of the urethra, usually due to a prior injury or infection. It blocks the flow of urine out of the body and may lead to various complications
  • The urethra is a tube which drains urine out of the body from the urinary bladder. A stricture is a narrowing of a tubular structure
  • Urethral Stricture in Women is not so common as compared to men (in whom urethral stricture occurs more often). The condition results in difficulty while urinating, blood in the urine, abdominal pain, and even urinary incontinence
  • A treatment of Urethral Stricture in Women may involve cystoscopy, surgical procedures, such as urethroplasty, and the placement of a catheter (if required)
  • Urethral Stricture in Women can be treated completely and the prognosis is good in a majority of cases

Who gets Urethral Stricture in Women? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Typically, urethral stricture can occur in any individual at any age
  • This condition is observed worldwide and there is no racial or ethnic predilection noted

What are the Risk Factors for Urethral Stricture in Women? (Predisposing Factors)

The risk factors that are likely to increase the occurrence of Urethral Strictures in Women are:

  • Sexually-transmitted infections
  • Procedures that are performed to place a catheter into the urethra
  • Any injury sustained to the pelvic area
  • Repeated occurrence of urethritis, which is swelling and irritation that is caused in the urethra

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Urethral Stricture in Women? (Etiology)

The possible causes of Urethral Strictures in Women may include:

  • Inflammation or scars that are the end-result of any surgery, disease, or injury
  • Tumors that occur very near to the urethra
  • Iatrogenic causes; those caused by medical procedures such as a surgery

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Urethral Stricture in Women?

The signs and symptoms that distinguish Urethral Strictures in Women are:

  • Blood discharge in the urine
  • Experiencing difficulties while urinating, inability to urinate, or a frequent and urgent sense to urinate
  • Slow urine steam, spraying of urine stream; decreased or no urine output
  • Dysuria or pain experienced while urinating
  • Discharge from the urethra
  • Incontinence: Accidental leaking of urine from the urethra
  • Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic region

How is Urethral Stricture in Women Diagnosed?

The various exams and tests that may be performed to diagnose Urethral Strictures in Women may include:

  • Physical examination and medical history evaluation - a physical exam may reveal the following:
    • Decreased urinary stream
    • Urethral discharge
    • Enlargement of the bladder
    • Enlarged or tender lymph nodes in the groin
  • The following tests may be performed to confirm Urethral Strictures in Women:
    • Cystoscopy
    • Post void residual volume (PVR)
    • Retrograde urethrogram
    • Tests to be done to check for the presence of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
    • Urinalysis
    • Urinary flow rate and culture

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Urethral Stricture in Women?

  • Urethral strictures may lead to complications, such as total blockage of the urine flow that could result in urinary retention
  • Acute urinary retention can result in damage to the kidneys

How is Urethral Stricture in Women Treated?

The treatment procedures for correcting Urethral Strictures in Women may include:

  • Cystoscopy, wherein an instrument is inserted to stretch the urethra, after administering local anesthesia to dilate or widen the urethra
  • Surgery based on location and length of the stricture is done, when cystoscopy is not very effective
  • Open urethroplasty may be adopted for strictures that are very long. This procedure involves removal of the diseased parts and reconstruction of the region. The results depend on the following parameters:
    • Size of the stricture
    • Location of the stricture
    • Number of treatments attempted in the past, to treat the stricture
  • When a patient is unable to urinate, a suprapubic catheter may be placed as an emergency treatment measure, to drain the bladder through the abdomen
  • A urinary diversion or appendicovesicostomy or Mitrofanoff procedure may be performed, which allows self-catheterization of the bladder through the abdomen walls
  • Currently, no drug therapy has been found effective to correct the condition

How can Urethral Stricture in Women be Prevented?

The following measures may be considered to avoid or prevent Urethral Stricture in Women:

  • Practicing safer sex methods, which can help prevent urethral strictures caused by sexually-transmitted diseases
  • Quick and immediate medical attention can help prevent various complications related to the urinary bladder and kidneys

What is the Prognosis of Urethral Stricture in Women? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

  • A prompt diagnosis and early treatment of Urethral Strictures in Women can help yield excellent results in most cases
  • Sometimes, repeated therapies must be performed to remove the scar tissue

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Urethral Stricture in Women:

  • A hypospadias repair and urethroplasty procedure is performed to prevent the development of urinary-tract infections, or if there are problems with the flow of urine or semen (affecting one’s fertility)

The following article link will help you understand hypospadias repair and urethroplasty procedure:


What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 15, 2016
Last updated: Dec. 24, 2018