A urethral caruncle is a normally benign, red, soft lump found on the posterior of the urethra. Women who have already gone through menopause are more likely to develop these lumps than younger women. Some patients will experience vaginal pain, pain with sex or bleeding from a urethral caruncle, in which case surgery may have to be performed.
Lack of estrogen production and excessive abdominal pressure are two common causes of a urethral caruncle. Some women seem to develop these growths for no apparent reason. It is possible that some patients develop this lump from trauma to the area or from inflammation resulting from back-to-back urinary tract infections.
Some women may develop a urethral caruncle and never know it. Sometimes the caruncle will cause no pain and disappear on its own as mysteriously as it came. Other patients may be in excruciating pain from it. This pain can occur during urination, while sitting or during sexual intercourse. Women experiencing chronic or abnormal urethral pain should make an appointment to see a urologist or gynecologist.
It is important for a doctor to take a look at the urethra of a woman with pain in the area. There are other causes for urethral pain aside from urethral caruncles, including interstitial cystitis, a chronic bladder disease and several sexually transmitted diseases. If a doctor determines that a urethral caruncle is responsible for a woman's pain, then there are several courses of treatment that may work to ease the symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications or estrogen creams can help to reduce the pain and swelling in the urethra area. The at-home treatment of taking a sitz bath also is typically recommended for patients experiencing discomfort.
Rare cases may occur when a urethral caruncle does not heal on its own. In this scenario, a patient may have to undergo surgery to remove the fleshy lump. The surgery can be done under general or local anesthesia and is normally performed in a hospital rather than a urologist's office. A doctor may prescribe temporary narcotic pain medication while a patient is recovering.
There is always a low possibility that any mass found in the urethral area can cancerous. If a urologist suspects anything unusual about the caruncle, he or she will perform a biopsy. Typically, however, caruncles are benign. Cysts and other hard masses found in the pelvic region are much more likely to be potentially cancerous.