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Non-specific urethritis (NSU)

NSU is non-specific inflammation (irritation) of the urine tube in men. There are many causes of NSU. Some are sexually transmitted, but some are not. If left untreated, NSU can have long term effects on health, including painful infection in the testicles.

What is it?

NSU (Non-specific urethritis) is a non-specific inflammation of the urine tube in men.

How do I catch it?

NSU has many causes- some are sexually transmitted, some are not. Up to 30% of men with NSU have chlamydia and so the sexual health clinic will give you chlamydia treatment if they find NSU, just in case.

Other less common sexually transmitted infection causes of NSU include trichomonas, herpes and mycoplasma. NSU can also be caused by other organisms which are not sexually transmitted, and some of these can be treated by the antibiotics. Friction (during sex or masturbation) and sensitivity to chemicals such as spermicide, soap or latex can also cause NSU.

NSU can have long term impacts on your health if it is left untreated. This includes a painful infection in the testicles.

What symptoms could I have?

You might experience burning or stinging when you urinate and a discharge coming from your penis.

How do you test for it?

It is diagnosed in a sexual health clinic by looking at a sample from the tip of the penis under a microscope.

You can use the service finder to find a testing service near you.

How do you treat it?

While the clinic waits for the results of your tests, you will be given antibiotics to treat possible chlamydia infection. These antibiotics sometimes cover other infections. If your chlamydia test comes back negative, your current partner has been treated and your symptoms do not disappear, you should return to the clinic for further assessment. You may need more antibiotics. Your symptoms might persist despite treatment if it is not an infection causing your symptoms, although this is uncommon. If you are treated for NSU, make sure your partner is also treated before you have sex again to prevent reinfection.

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