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Urethritis in adult men

Arlene C Seña, MD, MPH
Myron S Cohen, MD
Heidi Swygard, MD, MPH
Section Editor
Noreen A Hynes, MD, MPH, DTM&H
Deputy Editor
Allyson Bloom, MD


Urethritis, or inflammation of the urethra, is a common manifestation of sexually transmitted infections among men.

This topic addresses the clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and empiric treatment of urethritis. Details on the clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of specific pathogens that can cause urethritis are discussed elsewhere. (See "Epidemiology and pathogenesis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection" and "Treatment of uncomplicated gonococcal infections" and "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of Chlamydia trachomatis infections" and "Treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis infection" and "Mycoplasma genitalium infection in men and women".)

The discussion in this topic is largely consistent with the 2015 sexually transmitted diseases guidelines from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [1].


Infectious urethritis is typically caused by a sexually transmitted pathogen; thus, most cases are seen in young, sexually active men.

Overall, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis are the most common organisms identified in cases of urethritis. Mycoplasma genitalium has also been increasingly recognized as an important cause of urethritis. Because N. gonorrhoeae is easily visualized on Gram stain, which is classically the primary mode of evaluating urethral discharge in men, urethritis is traditionally classified as gonococcal versus non-gonococcal.


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Literature review current through: Oct 2015. | This topic last updated: Jul 7, 2015.
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