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Non-Gonococcal Urethritis (NGU)

What is Non-Gonococcal Urethritis (NGU)

Non-Gonococcal Urethritis (NGU) is an infection of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. ‘Nongonococcal’ means the infection is not caused by the gonorrhea bacteria.


NGU is often caused by a bacterial infection (like chlamydia), but it can also be caused by a virus or protozoa. Bacterial infections can be treated and cured with antibiotics. To find out if you have NGU, you need to be examined by a health care provider and have lab tests done.

NGU is usually passed by exchanging body fluids during unprotected sex (including oral sex).


Symptoms may include burning when urinating, itching inside the urethra, or a clear to creamy white fluid (discharge) from the urethra. Some people with NGU show no symptoms, or mild symptoms that may be unnoticeable.  Usually, the symptoms are seen or experienced more in the morning.

Tests and Diagnosis

Diagnosis of NGU requires an exam and testing by your health care provider.

Find a clinic


NGU is treated with antibiotics, which usually work very well to cure the infection. It is important to take all the medication as directed, even if you start to feel better. Go back to your health care provider if you still have symptoms after you finish your medication.

It is important to not have any sex (even with a condom) for 7 days after the start of your treatment.  If you do have sex, you could pass the infection to your sexual partners or get it again.  If this happens, talk to your health care provider.

Sexual Partners

If you have NGU, you will be asked who you had sex with in the past 2 months (60 days). Anyone you have had sex with in the past two months will need to be tested and treated. Partners are almost always treated whether they have symptoms or not. If you have not had sex in the past two months, your last partner should be tested.

There are a few ways you can tell partners about STI testing. Some people want to tell partners in person, others want to tell partners anonymously. You can talk to your health care provider about what ways might work best for you.

How to talk to your partners


If NGU not treated, they can lead to pain and swelling in one or both gonads (called epididymitis) and may result in infertility.The bacteria or virus that causes urethritis can also cause complications in people of all genders. Sexual partners of people diagnosed with urethritis also require testing and treatment.

Downloadable Guides

NGU information sheet

A PDF version of the Non-Gonococcal Urethritis topic page on SmartSexResource.