Non Specific Urethritis - NSU
What is Non-Specific Urethritis?
Non-specific urethritis is an inflammation of the urethra: the tube that runs from the bladder and carries the urine out of the body. Although not all cases are sexual in origin, the majority of cases are in people who are sexually active.
It is called ‘non specific’ because there are a variety of different causes for this condition. It is often described as a condition only men get, partly because symptoms are more recognised in women and more specific diagnoses can be made, such as Cystitis or Bacterial Vaginosis.
In men, the symptoms can include a white or cloudy discharge from the penis tip, a burning or pain on urination or an increased need to urinate. Women can have an unusual discharge that does not have a foul odour as in the case of Bacterial Vaginosis and where STIs and Cystitis have been ruled out, a label of NSU can be applied and a broad-spectrum antibiotic prescribed.
Can I be tested for Non-Specific Urethritis
As NSU is non-specific in nature, there is no test as such. NSU is usually diagnosed when someone has symptoms of an infection of the urethra and all other options such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea have been ruled out following appropriate tests.
NSU can be caused by bacteria that usually live harmlessly in the body but can trigger NSU if they get into the urethra, usually during sexual contact. We regularly see patients who have been told by the NHS that they have NSU but are determined to find out the actual cause and in a large number of cases the bacteria detected are either Ureaplasma Urealyticum or Mycoplasma Genitalium.
NSU can also be caused by irritants such as chemicals from soap finding their way into the urethra.
Should I get tested for Non-Specific Urethritis
If you have symptoms of a urethral infection then we recommend one of our full screens if Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea have not been ruled out. If they have already been ruled out then we can perform a narrower test for you depending on your symptoms.
How is Non-Specific Urethritis Treated?
The treatment for NSU is antibiotics. We recommend that any partner is also treated at the same time.
If you are being treated for NSU you should not have unprotected sex until the course of treatment is over and 7 days have elapsed.
Treatment is important as it is possible that any infection can lead to epididymitis or orchitis.