A urethral stricture involves scarring that narrows the tube that carries urine out of your body (urethra). A stricture restricts the flow of urine from the bladder and can cause a variety of medical problems in the urinary tract, including inflammation or infection. 


Scar tissue, which can narrow the urethra, can be due to: 

  • A medical procedure that involves inserting an instrument, such as an endoscope, into the urethra. 
  • Intermittent or long-term use of a tube inserted through the urethra to drain the bladder (catheter) 
  • Trauma or injury to the urethra or pelvis 
  • An enlarged prostate or previous surgery to remove or reduce an enlarged prostate gland 
  • Cancer of the urethra or prostate 
  • Sexually transmitted infections 
  • Radiation therapy


  • Decreased urine stream
  • Incomplete bladder emptying
  • Spraying of the urine stream 
  • Difficulty straining or pain when urinating
  • Increased urge to urinate or more frequent urination 
  • Urinary tract infection


  1. Avoid injury to the urethra and pelvis.
  2. Be careful with self-catheterization
    • Use lubricating jelly liberally
    • Use the smallest possible catheter needed for the shortest time
  3. Avoid sexually transmitted infections.
    • Gonorrhea was once the most common cause of strictures.
    • Antibiotics have helped to prevent this.
    • Chlamydia is now the more common cause.
    • Infection can be prevented with condom use, or by avoiding sex with infected partners.
    • If a problem occurs, take the right antibiotics early. Urethral strictures are not contagious, but sexually transmitted infections are.


There are several tests to determine if you have a urethral stricture including:

  • physical exam
  • urethral imaging (X-rays or ultrasound)
  • urethroscopy (to see the inside of the urethra)
  • retrograde urethrogram


There are many options depending on the size of the blockage and how much scar tissue is involved.

Treatments include:

dilation – enlarging the stricture with gradual stretching

urethrotomy – cutting the stricture with a laser or knife through a scope

open surgery – surgical removal of the stricture with reconnection and reconstruction, possibly with grafts (urethroplasty)

There are no available drugs to help treat strictures.

Without treatment, you will continue to have problems with voiding. Urinary and/or testicular infections and stones could develop. Also, there is a risk of urinary retention (when you can’t pass urine), which could lead to an enlarged bladder and kidney problems.