Health conditions

Non-specific urethritis (NSU)

What is non-specific urethritis?

Urethritis is an inflammation of the urethra, the tube that empties urine from the bladder.

Non-specific urethritis (NSU) refers to inflammation of the urethra in men that has been caused by an infection other than gonorrhoea or chlamydia. They are non-specific because there are many different causes.

How do you get NSU?

There are many causes of NSU. It can be caused by squeezing the penis and mechanical irritation of the urethra.

It can also be caused by infection with a variety of microbes including:

Infection usually occurs through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • a discharge from the penis
  • pain when passing urine.

How do I know I have NSU?

If NSU is suspected, a urine sample and/or swab is taken from the urethra. The samples will be tested in a laboratory.

It’s a good idea to have tests for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the same time.

Treatment of NSU

If you have NSU you will be given antibiotics. It is important that you finish the course of antibiotics.

Do not squeeze your penis to look for discharge. This will make your symptoms worse.

Avoid sex until treatment is completed and the swabs are repeated.

Make sure all your sexual partners are tested and treated.

How can NSU be prevented?

You can reduce the risks of getting NSU, as well as other STIs, by following this advice:

  • Always use condoms and water-based lubricant. Condoms are the best way to protect you from these and other STIs. Always use condoms during vaginal and anal sex, and dams during oral sex, until you’re totally sure that both you and your partner don’t have an STI.
  • Have a long-term relationship where neither of you is already infected, and neither of you has other partners.
  • Limit your sex partners. The fewer people you have sex with, the less chance you have of having sex with someone who has an STI.
  • Have regular STI checks.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor.
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222.
  • Call the Sexual Health Helpline (9227 6178 for metropolitan callers or 1800 198 205 for country callers).
  • Contact your local sexual health clinic (external site).

Remember

  • You can reduce the risks of getting NSU by practising safe sex, and limiting your sex partners.

Acknowledgements

Child and Adolescent Health Service


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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