nongonococcal urethritis

What is NGU?
NGU is a term that describes an infection of the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder). NGU stands for non gonococcal urethritis. It means that after testing, gonorrhea has been ruled out as the cause of the urethral infection. Other sexually transmitted organisms are usually the cause.

Among the several organisms that cause NGU, the most common and most serious is chlamydia.

NGU generally refers to symptoms that men have. Painful urination and/or discharge are typical NGU symptoms for men.

Women who get chlamydia often have no symptoms--especially in its early stages.

In women, painful urination and/or unusual vaginal discharge can be caused by organisms unrelated to NGU.


What are the symptoms of NGU for men?
Key symptoms include:
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Burning when urinating
  • Burning or itching around the opening of the penis

These symptoms most frequently appear in the morning. Some men will have no symptoms, or symptoms so mild they go unnoticed.


Can women get NGU?
Women can just as easily be infected with the organisms that cause NGU in men. In women, however, these infections more often create problems in the reproductive tract instead of the urethra.

The long-term consequences of these infections tend to be more severe in women. Because the infection is internal and often without noticeable symptoms, a woman may not know she is infected until complications set in.


Can NGU be dangerous?
Yes, if left untreated.

And women and babies are most at risk.

Don't be fooled by a lack of symptoms or consoled by mild symptoms. Left untreated, the organisms that cause NGU-especially chlamydia-can lead to:

  • Permanent damage to the reproductive organs of both men and women, resulting in infertility
  • Problems in pregnancy, resulting in premature delivery or low birth weight
  • Eye, ear, and lung infections in newborns

A man can help his female sex partner by getting tested at once if he has symptoms.


Getting tested
Go to a clinic or doctor for an examination and tests. You can be tested even if you don't have symptoms.

Since gonorrhea can cause urethritis, it must be ruled out before you can be told you have NGU-- nongonoccocal urethritis.

A man who is diagnosed with NGU should tell his female sex partner and ask her to get tested. He can prevent lasting damage to her body by telling her right away.

It's important to be tested for other sexually transmitted diseases as well, since having one infection can indicate that you have other infections, too.


How is NGU treated?
NGU is treated with antibiotics.

Follow instructions carefully. Depending on your medication, you may take only one pill or you may take pills everyday for a week or more. Be sure to take all of the medication-even if symptoms go away after a day or two. It takes longer to get rid of the actual infection.

All sex partners of someone diagnosed with NGU should be treated because:

  • They may have an infection and not know it
  • It keeps them from passing the infection back to you or to others
  • It prevents them from suffering possible complications

When you're being treated, it's important to avoid sexual contact with a partner until treatment is completely finished. You could still be contagious, even if your symptoms have gone.

A woman who is pregnant, or thinks she might be, should tell her doctor. This will ensure that an antibiotic will be used that won't harm the baby.


How can I avoid getting NGU?
Guidelines for preventing NGU are similar to those for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDS.
Practice "Outercourse":
The only sure way to prevent STDs is to avoid contact between the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. You can touch, kiss, cuddle, massage, or tell each other your fantasies. In general, using your hands to give pleasure is safe.
Use a Latex Condom:
Use a latex condom (rubber) from start to finish every time you have sex. For extra protection, use a spermicidal jelly or foam during vaginal sex. Use it with latex condoms, not in place of them.
Be Prepared:
Have latex condoms on hand and be ready to use them. Be aware that people often don't make good decisions in the heat of the moment-especially if they are drunk or stoned.
Limit Number of Partners:
The more people you have sex with, the greater your risk of getting an STD. If your partner has sex with others, you are also at risk.
Get Tested:
If you think you have an STD, go to your doctor or clinic right away. Ask your partner to get tested too, so you won't pass a disease back and forth. If you have sex, get a checkup at least once a year.

Find out more
  • Contact the STD clinic in your local health department.
  • Talk with your health care provider.
  • Call the CDC National STD Hotline at 1-800-227-8922. It's free and open to calls from 8 AM to 11 PM, Eastern time, Monday through