What are Some Types of Benign Urethral Lesions?

Non-Cancerous Growths

Non-cancerous growths in men are linked to warts on the penis shaft. These lesions are often caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Your health care provider might suspect urethral wart-like growths if he/she sees a lesion on the urethra outlet. He/she may also suspect them if your urinary stream changes, or if you've had them before. There may also be blood in your urine and pain/burning when you pee.

Lichen Sclerosis (LS) or Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans (BXO)

Lichen sclerosis is a lasting skin problem of the penis end that doesn't have a known cause. LS is marked by pale, shiny, whitish skin around the outlet of the urethra. This skin can turn into a scar over time. This is thought to start in early childhood and progress through adulthood. The scar can make the urethra thinner (urethral stricture). This can make it harder to pee. Other symptoms are soreness, itching, and cracking skin, sometimes with ulcerations and bleeding. Uncircumcised men with this problem can have trouble pulling back the penis foreskin.

Urethral Stricture
Urethral Stricture

Urethral Stricture Disease

A urethral stricture is when part of the urethra narrows. This can be caused by scar tissue forming in the urethra. (This disease is described in the Urethral Stricture section on this website.) The symptoms of urethral stricture disease are:

Your urologist mostly finds urethral strictures by testing a urine sample, using an x-ray test (retrograde urethrography), and looking inside your body with a long, thin telescope with a light at the end (cystoscope).

Urethral Polyps

A urethral polyp is a rare, irregular growth that most often appears at birth. It's most common in females. This polyp is often made up of fibrous tissue. It may also include some smooth muscle, small cysts, or nerve tissue, all covered with a thin protective layer of tissue.

Some symptoms are:

  • lump in the vulva of the vagina
  • blood in the urine
  • urinary blockage

Urethral polyps are found with a cystoscope. A type of x-ray test called a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is also used.

Paraurethral Cyst

Paraurethral cysts, also known as Skene's glands, are found in the wall of the vagina near the urethra in females. A paraurethral cyst appears as a glistening, tense, and bulging yellowish-white mass that narrows the urethral outlet.

Common symptoms are:

  • a lump that can be felt
  • misdirected urinary stream
  • urinary blockage
  • painful urination

Urethral Caruncle

Urethral caruncles are polypoid ("stalk-like") masses hanging from part of the urethral outlet. These are most often spotted during an exam for some other health problem. Urethral caruncles are more common in women who don't use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause. The main sign of this problem is a thin, reddish membrane sticking out from the urethral outlet.

Some symptoms are:

  • bleeding and pain when peeing
  • needing to pee often
  • sudden need to pee
  • outlet of the urethra is tender

Urethral Prolapse

Urethral prolapse is a rare problem of the female urethra. It's much more bothersome than other benign lesions. The urethra's membrane and the spongy tissue below poke out of the urethral outlet. This leads to pain and vaginal bleeding. Sometimes it can keep your body from getting rid of urine. Urethral prolapse occurs most often in young girls, but may happen at any age. It's most often found by physical exam.