Non-Gonococcal Urethritis

What is it?

Non-gonococcal Urethritis is an inflammation of the urethra caused by a bacterium other than gonorrhea. The most common cause of the inflammation is Chlamydia, but it is its own condition because other bacteria can cause the infection.


NGU can have sexual or non-sexual origins. It can be spread through vaginal, oral or anal sexual contact, but can also be caused by urinary tract infections, an inflamed prostate, or a tightening of the foreskin of the penis.

The best ways to prevent against NGU is to use latex condoms during all sexual encounters, keep numbers of sexual partners down, and wash the genital area after sex. People who are sexually active should also have regular checkups with a medical professional. Men between the ages of 15 and 30 with multiple sex partners are at highest risk for NGU. Women are less likely to have an inflamed urethra because of anatomical differences.


Symptoms of NGU usually surface one to five weeks after infection, and commonly include burning before or after urination, and unusual discharge. Often, the discharge is only noticed as a stain on the underwear of the infected person. The symptoms may only last a few days, but the infection may still be present. Medical treatment should be sought, as NGU can cause numerous complications if left untreated. In men, NGU can lead to infertility due to an inflammation of the testicles, arthritis and skin lesions. For women, the inflammation can lead to vaginal infections, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, infertility, miscarriage, and dangerous pregnancies.


Contact Student Health at (215) 662-2853 for an immediate appointment if you think you may have NGU or any other sexual infection. If you become infected with one STD, your may want to be tested for others as well. Medication will be prescribed to calm the inflammation. Be sure to take all of the medication, even if symptoms go away, as the infection can still be present. Previous sexual partners should be informed. All parties should be treated to prevent reinfection. In addition, sexual activity should be halted during treatment.

Information to Live by: Nongonococcal Urethritis,” American Social Health Association Website. October 27, 2003.

Non-Gonococcal Urethritis,” University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign McKinley Health Center Website. March 16, 2001.

Public Health Sheet: Non-Gonococcal Urethritis,” Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health Website. October 27, 2003.