Urethritis is inflammation of the urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to urinary meatus and carries urine). The urethra is inside the penis in men (where it also carries semen) and behind and below the clitoris in women. Symptoms of urethritis include pain passing urine and discharge from the urethra. However, urethritis often has no symptoms at all. Urethritis is diagnosed on a urine test or a swab from the urethra.


The most common causes of urethritis are:
1. Chlamydia
2. Gonorrhoea
3. Mycoplasma genitalium (MG)

Non-specific urethritis (NSU) is diagnosed when a person has symptoms but all the tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and MG are negative. Other bacteria, yeasts and viruses (adenovirus and herpes) may cause NSU. 


Urethritis is usually treated with a single dose of antibiotic, either a tablet or an injection. Sometimes a longer course of medication is required.

Contact tracing, (treatment of sexual partners) is always necessary, when these infections are diagnosed, to prevent complications further transmission and reinfection.

Symptoms should improve within a few days, but can take up to a week to resolve. It is important to have no sex or 100% protected sex for seven days after treatment.

If your symptoms do not resolve after 1 week please return to the clinic. 

If you have chlamydia, gonorrhoea or MG, you must tell your partner(s). If you have NSU, you should discuss with your treating doctor whether your partner(s) should be notified. If you have difficulty notifying partners, we can assist while keeping your identity confidential or you can go to www.letthemknow.org.au for assistance.

This fact sheet is designed to provide you with information on Urethritis. It is not intended to replace the need for a consultation with your doctor. All clients are strongly advised to check with their doctor about any specific questions or concerns they may have. Every effort has been taken to ensure that the information in this pamphlet is correct at the time of printing.

Last Updated November 2017