What is urethral stricture? A urethral stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the urethra that slows or blocks the stream of urine exiting the body. The urethra is part of your urinary system, which is also known as the urinary tract. Your urinary tract includes two kidneys, which filter waste products from the bloodstream and produce urine; two ureters, which transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder; the bladder, which stores urine; and the urethra, which eliminates urine from the body. The urethra connects the bladder to the outside of the body. It ends at the tip of the penis in men and in the area just in front of the vaginal opening in women. The male urethra also transports semen to the outside of the body. In men, the urethra extends from the tip of the penis, through the prostate gland, and up to the urethral sphincter valve. While urethral stricture can affect people of all ages, it is not a common condition. It is more likely to occur in men than in women due to the differences in anatomy. Typical symptoms of a urethral stricture include an inability to empty the bladder, a sluggish urine stream, blood in the male ejaculate, pain while urinating, and swelling of the penis. Urethral strictures are caused by inflammation or scar tissue from infection, trauma or injury, surgery to the penis or urinary tract, and less commonly, tumors that grow near the urethra. Urethral strictures can affect any portion of the urethra. They can also range in length depending on the type and severity of the underlying cause. Treatment of a urethral stricture may involve manually dilating or widening the urethra, or surgical procedures to open or reconstruct the urethra. In some cases, a urethral stricture can lead to potentially serious, even life-threatening complications, such as urine retention, kidney infection, and permanent kidney damage. Seek prompt medical care for changes in urination or urinary symptoms, such as painful urination, frequent urination, or urethral discharge. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have serious symptoms, including severe flank or abdominal pain, no urine output, bloody urine, severe shortness of breath, or a sudden change in consciousness or alertness. Rapid diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the risk of complications.