Non-Specific Urethritis (NSU)

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What Is It?

The urethra is the tube that leads from the bladder to the end of the penis or to the vulva.

There are many different bacteria, which can inflame the urethra causing urethritis (inflammation of the urethra).

Non-specific urethritis, (NSU) is a very common STI.



Often there may be no symptoms. NSU can be diagnosed by a test at your local STI clinic.

Symptoms, when present, usually involve a burning sensation when urinating (peeing) which may be very painful. In the morning a white, sticky discharge from the penis may occur.

It may cause unusual vaginal discharge, irritation of the vulva and/or a stinging or burning sensation when urinating (peeing).



As NSU can be caused by a wide range of bacteria and infections which live in a variety of places, (the genitals, anus, mouth and throat) most sexual activities involving the penis or vulva have the potential of transmitting urethritis.

An NSU may be transmitted through:

  • unprotected sexual activity, including fingering
  • rubbingvulvas and/or sharing sex toys
  • from infected fingers to eyes
  • from a pregnant mother to her baby

Sometimes NSU can develop without a known route of transmission.



If you have NSU you can use barriers like condoms, female condoms, glyde dams and gloves for sexual activity until the infection has been treated and cleared.



You will probably be asked to return to the clinic for a follow-up appointment to make sure the infection has cleared – remember that even if the signs of the infection have gone it may still be there and could reoccur.


Regular screening at your local STI clinic is recommended to maintain your sexual health.



Treatment of NSU involves a course of antibiotics, which, as always, should be completed even if you think the infection has disappeared.