Urethritis is usually due to sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea. It can also be caused by injuring the urethra (the tube you pee through) through sex play. Other conditions can give the same symptoms, eg, prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) or a urinary tract infection (UTI). Sometimes no cause can be found and then it is called non-specific urethritis (NSU) or non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU).
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Also called NSU or NGU
Key points about urethritis
- Urethritis is an inflammation of a male’s urethra (the tube you pee through), usually due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- Urethritis can be caught by having vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom, or sex play.
- If you use a condom every time you have sex you are much less likely to get urethritis.
- Testing is done with a swab test from the urethra and a urine test.
- You need to tell anyone you've had sex with in the last 2 months to get a sexual health check and treatment.
- You should use condoms or avoid sex for 7 days after you and your partner(s) have been treated so you don’t pass the infection on.
Common symptoms may include:
- a white or cloudy discharge from your penis
- pain or discomfort when urinating (peeing)
- irritation or soreness of your penis tip.
To test for gonorrhoea and chlamydia you will have a sample of fluid taken from the inside of your penis with a swab (like a cotton bud). You will also be asked to provide a urine sample. These samples will be sent to a lab for analysis.
If you have an infection, urethritis is usually treated with antibiotic tablets. Sometimes you may need an injection.
It's important that you tell anyone you have had sex with in the last 3 months. They will also need to get a sexual health check and be treated.
You should avoid having sex for a week after you start your treatment and until a week after all your sexual contacts have been treated. If this isn’t possible, use a condom for any sort of sex.
You will be followed up in a week or so to see how the treatment is going. A check-up in 3 months is recommended as it's possible to be re-infected.
Urethritis (in men) – Patient information(external link)(external link)(external link) NZ Sexual Health Society, 2012
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Reviewed by: Associate Professor Sue Wells, Public Health Physician, University of Auckland
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