Urethritis is inflammation (irritation) of the lining of the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body). Urethritis can be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Infections of the urethra include chlamydia and gonorrhea.

If left untreated, urethritis caused by an STI can result in:

  • Severe pain
  • Infertility (inability to have children)
  • Painful or swollen testicles
  • An increased risk of getting or spreading HIV


Some people with urethritis do not have symptoms.

If symptoms occur, they can include:

  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Clear or white discharge from the penis
  • Pain and swelling in the testicles


Condoms can prevent the spread of STIs known to cause urethritis, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.


Your health care provider can diagnose urethritis with a urine sample, or by swabbing fluid from the tip of the penis.


Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics to treat the STI that is causing the urethritis.

Sex Partners

If your urethritis is caused by an STI, your sex partner(s) also need to be treated so they do not develop serious health problems, re-infect you or pass the infection on to others. Tell all of your sex partners from the previous two months about your infection so they can be examined and treated.

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