Symptoms of non-gonococcal urethritis 

Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU) can cause different symptoms in men and women. In some cases, NGU does not cause any symptoms at all.

Symptoms of NGU in men

The symptoms of NGU in men can include:

  • a white or cloudy discharge from the tip of the penis 
  • a burning or painful sensation when you urinate (pee)
  • the tip of your penis feeling irritated and sore
  • a frequent need to urinate

Depending on the cause of NGU, symptoms may begin a few weeks or several months after an infection.

If NGU has a non-infectious cause, such as irritation to the urethra, symptoms may begin after a couple of days. Symptoms that start a day or two after sex are usually not caused by an STI, but testing for STIs is still recommended.

Read more about the causes of NGU.

If a current or recent sexual partner informs you that you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause NGU, but you don't have any symptoms, don't assume that you do not have NGU. If this happens, it is always recommended that you get tested at your local genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic or sexual health clinic.

You should still seek treatment if the symptoms of NGU disappear on their own, as there is still a risk you could pass the infection on to someone else.

Symptoms of NGU in women

NGU tends to cause no noticeable symptoms in women unless the infection spreads to other parts of the female reproductive system, such as the womb or fallopian tubes (which connect the ovaries to the womb).

If the infection does spread, a woman may develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is a serious health condition that can cause persistent pain. Repeated episodes of PID are associated with an increased risk of infertility.

Some women with PID don't have symptoms. If there are symptoms, they include: 

  • pain around the pelvis or lower part of your stomach (abdomen) 
  • discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse that is felt deep inside the pelvis
  • bleeding between periods and after sex
  • pain when you urinate
  • heavy or painful periods
  • unusual vaginal discharge – especially if it is yellow or green

A few women with PID become very ill with:

  • severe lower abdominal pain
  • a fever (high temperature) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • nausea and vomiting

Page last reviewed: 02/09/2014

Next review due: 02/09/2016