Department of Genito Urinary Medicine and Sexual Health
Non-specific Urethritis (NSU)
Non-specific urethritis (NSU) is an inflammation of a man’s urethra. This inflammation can be caused by several different types of infection, the most common being chlamydia.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms may include:

  • Pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
  • A white/cloudy fluid from the tip of the penis.This may be more noticeable first thing in the morning
  • Feeling that you need to pass urine frequently

Often there may be no symptoms, but this does not mean that you cannot pass the infection on to your partner(s).

How NSU Develops

NSU is almost always caused through sexual infection.
Very rarely it can result from an allergic reaction, such as to bubble baths or washing powders or other chemicals

Where to go for Help
  • Your local NHS sexual health (GUM) clinic, You can find details of your nearest NHS sexual health clinic in the phone book under genito-urinary medicine (GUM), sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or venereal diseases (VD). Or phone your local hospital and ask for the ‘special’ or GUM clinic. You will get free, confidential advice and treatment, You can go to any clinic anywhere in the country — you don’t have to go to a local one — and you don’t have to be referred by your GP. (Non-NHS sexual health clinics may not always offer the full range of services which are available at NHS sexual health clinics.)

  • Your own GP.

Don’t pass urine for at least 2 hours before attending the clinic or doctor’s surgery.

The Tests for NSU
  • A physical examination of your genital area by a doctor or nurse.
  • Samples are taken, using a cotton-wool or spongy swab, from the penis or urethra.
  • A sample of urine is taken.

None of these tests should be painful, but they may be uncomfortable.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Samples taken during the examination are looked at under a microscope to check for infection. In some clinics, the result is available immediately. A second sample is sent to a laboratory for confirmation of the infection.The result is usually available within one week.

Treatment is easy. You will be given antibiotic tablets. If you are allergic to any antibiotics, it is important that you tell your doctor.

It is important that you finish any course of treatment. If treatment is interrupted, it may be necessary to start again from the beginning.

Your partner should also attend the clinic for a check-up.


It is important to return for a check-up after you have completed the treatment to ensure that the infection has gone.

You should not have penetrative sex (when the penis enters the vagina, mouth or anus), not even with a condom, until you have returned to the clinic and been given the all-clear by the doctor.

NSU may recur. A recurrence may be triggered by excessive friction during sex or masturbation, or by excessive alcohol consumption. Serious complications are rare. If they do occur you may experience:
  • Inflammation of the testicles
  • Reduced fertility
  • Reiters syndrome — which causes inflammation of the eyes, joints and urethra, and sometimes sores on the penis or soles of the feet

Remember, after treatment, using condoms during sex can reduce your risk of getting or passing on sexually transmitted infections.

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