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Nongonococcal Urethritis (NGU)


Nongonococcal urethritis (NGU) is an infection of the urethra (the tube that carries urine through the body) caused by germs other than gonorrhea. The infection may be caused by a variety of different types of germs, and which germ is causing the infection will determine, in part, the seriousness of it. Chlamydia is a common cause of NGU, and is also the most serious concern. NGU can lead to significant health problems including infertility in men, and chronic pelvic pain and pelvic inflammatory disease in women.

Prevalence of NGU:

Doctors aren’t required to report cases of NGU which makes it difficult to know how common it is. However chlamydia, a major cause of NGU, is reported on, and figures indicate approximately 3 million people becoming infected in the U.S. each year.

How It's Transmitted:

NGU can be transmitted through oral, vaginal, or anal contact, even if there is not “total” penetration or if body fluids do not appear to be exchanged. Using condoms is one of the best ways to prevent transmission of NGU.

Symptoms of NGU:

Symptoms for men and women include penile or vaginal discharge, burning with urination, itching or irritation. More serious symptoms for women may indicate that NGU has progressed to PID.

How It's Prevented:

Because NGU can be transmitted through oral, vaginal, or anal contact, the best way to prevent transmission of NGU (other than not having physical contact at all) is by using condoms, having regular check ups, and seeing a doctor immediately if you are experiencing any symptoms.

NGU Diagnosis:

Because the definition of having NGU means that you have an inflammation of the urethra not caused by gonorrhea, the first step of diagnosis is to rule out these other causes. These days, this can be done with a simple urine test called NAAT that is very effective in detecting NGU.


Antibiotics are used to treat NGU. Some are single doses, and others require taking pills for seven days. You should consider following up after treatment with your doctor to make sure the NGU is gone. It is important to get treatment as early as possible, and to avoid sexual contact until you know the treatment is complete and successful.


Centers for Disease Control

American Social Health Association

World Health Organization

Burstein, G.R. & Zenilman, J.M. "Nongonococcal Urethritis—A New Paradigm"Clinical Infectious Diseases Vol. 28, Suppl 1 (1999):S66–73. Accessed October 13, 2007.

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