Urethritis Due to Gonorrhea or Chlamydia (Adult male) 

Image of male urinary tract, showing location of bladder, ureter, prostate, urethra, and testicles.

You have urethritis. This is an inflammation in the urethra. The urethra is the tube between the bladder and the tip of the penis. Urine drains out of the body through the urethra. There are 2 main types of this condition:

  • Gonococcal urethritis (GU). This is an infection caused by gonorrhea.

  • Nongonococcal urethritis (NGU). This is an infection that is often caused by chlamydia. Other infections can also be the cause.

Men are more likely to have symptoms, but may not. Symptoms can start within 1 week after exposure to an infection. But they can take a month or more to appear. Or they may not even occur. Some symptoms are:

  • Burning or pain when urinating

  • Irritation in the penis

  • Pus discharge from the penis

  • Pain and possible swelling in one or both testicles

Infections in the urethra are often caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The most common STIs are gonorrhea, chlamydia, or both.

Gonococcal urethritis (GU) is an infection of the urethra. It's caused by gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Gonorrhea can also be in other areas of the body. This can cause:

  • Rectal pain and discharge

  • Throat infection

  • Eye infections (conjunctivitis)

Without treatment, the infection can get worse and spread to other parts of your body. The infection can cause rashes, arthritis, and infections in your joints, heart, and brain.

Nongonococcal urethritis (NGU) is an infection of the urethra. It's often caused by chlamydia. Symptoms may clear up in a few weeks or months, even without treatment. But without treatment, the bacteria that cause NGU can stay in the urethra. This means that even if symptoms clear up, you can still have an infection. You can spread it to others if you are not treated.

Urethritis caused by an infection can be cured. But it needs to be treated with antibiotics. If you don't get treated, you can give it to someone else. If you give it to a woman, it can cause a serious pelvic infection. She may not be able to have children (infertility).

It's important to remember that you can have an infection without symptoms. For this reason, your sex partner needs to be treated, even if they have no symptoms. If they are not treated, and you keep having sex, you will be infected again. Your partner should contact their own healthcare provider to be checked and treated. An urgent care clinic or the Public Health Department can also do this.

Home care

These guidelines will help you care for yourself at home:

  • Take all the antibiotics you were given until they are used up. It's important to finish them, even if you are feeling better. This ensures the infection is completely cleared up.

  • No sex until both you and your partner have finished all the antibiotics, and your healthcare provider says you are no longer contagious.

  • You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain, unless you were given a different pain medicine. Talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines if you:

    • Have long-term (chronic) liver or kidney disease

    • Have ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding

    • Are taking blood thinners

  • Don’t take aspirin (or medicine that contains aspirin) if you are younger than age 19 unless directed by your child’s provider. Taking aspirin can put them at risk for Reye syndrome. This is a rare but very serious disorder. It most often affects the brain and the liver.

  • Learn about and use safe sex practices. The safest sex is with a partner who has tested negative and only has sex with you. Condoms can keep some STIs from spreading. These include gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV. But condoms can't guarantee you won't get these diseases.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. If a culture test was taken, you may call for the results as directed. Another culture test should be done 4 to 6 weeks after treatment to be sure the infection is gone. Follow up with your healthcare provider or the Public Health Department for a complete STI screening, including HIV testing. For more information about STIs, contact CDC-INFO at 800-232-4636.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • No improvement after 3 days of treatment, although some symptoms can last longer

  • Unable to urinate

  • Rash or joint pain

  • Painful sores on the penis

  • Enlarged painful lymph nodes (lumps) in the groin

  • Testicle pain or swelling of the scrotum

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