General Signs and Symptoms of Urogenital Infections

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A color photomicrograph, demonstrating macrophages and giant cells in a case of xanthogranulomatous pyelonephritis.
A color photomicrograph, demonstrating macrophages and giant cells in a case of xanthogranulomatous pyelonephritis.

By Nephron – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

OpenStax Microbiology

Infections of the urinary tract most commonly cause inflammation of the bladder (cystitis) or of the urethra (urethritis). Urethritis can be associated with cystitis, but can also be caused by sexually transmitted infections. Symptoms of urethritis in men include burning sensation while urinating, discharge from the penis, and blood in the semen or the urine. In women, urethritis is associated with painful and frequent urination, vaginal discharge, fever, chills, and abdominal pain. The symptoms of cystitis are similar to those of urethritis. When urethritis is caused by a sexually transmitted pathogen, additional symptoms involving the genitalia can occur. These can include painful vesicles (blisters), warts, and ulcers. Ureteritis, a rare infection of the ureter, can also occur with cystitis. These infections can be acute or chronic.

Pyelonephritis and glomerulonephritis are infections of the kidney that are potentially serious. Pyelonephritis is an infection of one or both of the kidneys and may develop from a lower urinary tract infection; the upper urinary tract, including the ureters, is often affected. Signs and symptoms of pyelonephritis include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, lower back pain, and frequent painful urination. Pyelonephritis usually only becomes chronic in individuals who have malformations in or damage to the kidneys.

Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli of the nephrons. Symptoms include excessive protein and blood in urine, increased blood pressure, and fluid retention leading to edema of face, hands, and feet. Glomerulonephritis may be an acute infection or it can become chronic.

Infections occurring within the reproductive structures of males include epididymitis, orchitis, and prostatitis. Bacterial infections may cause inflammation of the epididymis, called epididymitis. This inflammation causes pain in the scrotum, testicles, and groin; swelling, redness, and warm skin in these areas may also be observed. Inflammation of the testicle, called orchitis, is usually caused by a bacterial infection spreading from the epididymis, but it can also be a complication of mumps, a viral disease. The symptoms are similar to those of epididymitis, and it is not uncommon for them both to occur together, in which case the condition is called epididymo-orchitis. Inflammation of the prostate gland, called prostatitis, can result from a bacterial infection. The signs and symptoms of prostatitis include fever, chills, and pain in the bladder, testicles, and penis. Patients may also experience burning during urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, and painful ejaculation.

Because of its proximity to the exterior, the vagina is a common site for infections in women. The general term for any inflammation of the vagina is vaginitis. Vaginitis often develops as a result of an overgrowth of bacteria or fungi that normally reside in the vaginal microbiota, although it can also result from infections by transient pathogens. Bacterial infections of the vagina are called bacterial vaginosis, whereas fungal infections (typically involving Candida spp.) are called yeast infections. Dynamic changes affecting the normal microbiota, acid production, and pH variations can be involved in the initiation of the microbial overgrowth and the development of vaginitis. Although some individuals may have no symptoms, vaginosis and vaginitis can be associated with discharge, odor, itching, and burning.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs including the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. The two most common pathogens are the sexually transmitted bacterial pathogens Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis. Inflammation of the fallopian tubes, called salpingitis, is the most serious form of PID. Symptoms of PID can vary between women and include pain in the lower abdomen, vaginal discharge, fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and painful urination.


Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:


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