Non-specific urethritis (NSU) is usually caused by a bacterial infection. NSU only affects men.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Inflammation of a man’s urethra (pee tube) causing pain or burning when peeing.
  • A clear or white discharge from the penis.
  • More frequent peeing.

Getting it

Several different types of bacteria can cause NSU, most commonly chlamydia. Very rarely, it can result from friction during sex, an allergy or excess alcohol.

Diagnosis & treatment

Swabs are taken from the urethra (pee tube) and a pee sample will also be taken. In most clinics, the result is available when you first visit and NSU is treated with a simple course of antibiotics.

Long-term effects

Rare complications can be inflammation of the testicles and reduced fertility. Even if treated NSU may reappear, but this is uncommon.

If left untreated, there may be complications although again these are rare. These could include a painful infection of the testicles, possible reduced fertility and an inflammation of the joints that may lead to Reiter’s Syndrome.

If you can, you should let anyone that you have had sexual contact with in the last 3 – 6 months know that they may have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and that they need to be checked out and possibly tested. Staff at the clinic will offer you as much support as you need to do this.

If you think you may have NSU, contact your local sexual health (GUM) clinic and make an appointment. It’s easy and completely confidential.

For more information on sexual health (including HIV), call the Sexual Health Line free (from the UK) on 0800 567 123, textphone (for people with hearing impairments) 0800 521 361 or phone your local NHS sexual health clinic.