Urethritis is not a diagnosis, it is the term used to describe an ‘inflamed urethra’. There are several possible causes including Chlamydia and gonorrhoea. If tests for gonorrhoea and Chlamydia are negative, then the urethritis is usually called non-specific urethritis (or NSU for short).
Urethritis can occur after unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Symptoms of urethritis include discharge, pain passing urine, or just an uncomfortable feeling in the urethra.

Many people do not realise that Chlamydia and gonorrhoea infection may be present without symptoms but, even in this situation, can still be transmitted to sexual partners.


A swab from the urethra and a urine sample are taken for gonorrhoea and Chlamydia. The test is more accurate if you do not pass urine for at least 2 hours beforehand.


The treatment is with antibiotic tablets. Sexual partners also need assessment and treatment even if your results for Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are negative. This is because tests can occasionally miss Chlamydia even when it is present and is the cause of the urethritis.

Urethral irritation

Sometimes men experience urethral irritation when no inflammation or infection is present. This is usually short-lived and may be due to strong urine, other general illness, allergy (e.g. to spermicide), topical irritants (e.g. soap) or trauma from over vigorous sex or masturbation.

This page was last updated at 12:00PM on February 18, 2019.