Non-specific urethritis (NSU), also known as non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU)

What is it?

NSU is non-specific inflammation of the urethra (the tube which runs through a man's penis and carries urine and semen to the tip).

How do I catch it?

There are many causes of NSU. Some are sexually transmitted, but some are not. Up to 30% of men with NSU have chlamydia, so if we find NSU we will give you chlamydia treatment on the same day (just in case).

Other sexually transmitted infection causes of NSU include mycoplasma, trichomonas and herpes, which are less common. Other organisms which are not sexually transmitted can also cause NSU, and the antibiotics may also treat some of these. NSU can also be caused by friction (during sex or masturbation), and also by sensitivity to chemicals such as latex, spermicide or soap.

If left untreated, NSU can have long term effects on health, including painful infection in the testicles. If you are treated for NSU, it is essential that your partner is also treated before you have sex again.

Symptoms

You may experience discharge coming from your penis and stinging or burning when you urinate.

Testing

NSU is diagnosed by looking at a sample from the tip of the penis taken with a small swab and analysed using a microscope in the clinic.

Treatment

You will be given an antibiotic to cover possible chlamydia infection while we wait for the results of your tests. If your chlamydia test is negative, your current partner has been treated and your symptoms do not disappear we would recommend you return to the clinic for further assessment, and you may need further antibiotics. If your symptoms are not caused by an infection, symptoms may persist despite treatment.

All Umbrella clinics provide treatment for sexually transmitted infections. To find clinics, and to see which services they offer, please see the service locator.

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Worried about NSU?

How to avoid STIs

See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on contraception and sexually transmitted infections.

View FPA leaflets

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) website also features a range of downloadable leaflets on STIs.

View BASHH leaflets