The Ultimate Guide To Male Urethritis Syndrome

What Is Male Urethritis Syndrome?

Male Urethritis Syndrome (MUS) is when the urethra, or the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body, becomes inflamed and irritated (CDC, 2021).

MUS is often caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium. The next most common cause is Chlamydia trachomatis (Kularatne et al., 2022). In some cases it can be caused by Trichomoniasis which is a comon STI in South Africa.

But it can also be caused by physical injury or reactions to certain chemicals (CDC, 2021).

Common Sexually Transmitted Infections


Genital Herpes






Viral Hepatitis

Male Urethritis Syndrome

Male Urethritis Syndrome

Quick Facts About Male Urethritis Syndrome

MUS is the most common sexually transmitted syndrome in South Africa (Kularatne et al., 2022)

Between April and December 2023, the SA Dept of Health said that 40% of men who visited public health facilities were treated for male urethritis syndrome (Motsoere, 2024).

✔ MUS is also known as “Male Urethritis“.

✔ You can largely prevent this syndrome by using condoms.

How Do You Get Male Urethritis Syndrome?

Short answer: MUS is most commonly spread through sexual contact with an infected partner or through a bacterial infection (CDC, 2021).

Long answer: MUS is caught mainly through unprotected sex with someone infected with an STI, like gonorrhoea or chlamydia. It can also come from non-sexually transmitted bacteria, like Escherichia coli, or through physical irritation or injury to the urethra.

How To Protect Yourself Against Male Urethritis Syndrome

You cannot fully protect yourself against Male Urethritis Syndrome, but you can lower your chances of getting this syndrome by (CDC, 2021):

✔ Using condoms.

✔ Holding back from having sex when a partner is having symptoms of an STI like gonorrhoea or chlamydia.

Symptoms of Male Urethritis Syndrome

Some men may experience mild, hardly noticeable symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms. Every person experiences MUS differently, but typically, the symptoms include (CDC, 2021):

✔ A burning sensation or pain during urination

✔ An increased urge to urinate more frequently

✔ Discharge from the penis, which may be clear, white, yellow, or greenish

✔ Itching, irritation, or tenderness in the penis or urethra

Blood in the urine or semen (in some cases).

After Exposure, When Will Symptoms Start?

After being exposed to something that can cause MUS (like certain infections from sexual contact), symptoms can start showing up at different times for different people. Here’s a simpler breakdown:

If it’s gonorrhea causing the problem, you might start feeling symptoms like burning when you pee or discharge from the penis within about 2 to 7 days after you were exposed (Wilson, & Wilson, 2019).

For chlamydia, it could take a bit longer—about 1 to 3 weeks—before symptoms begin to show (Wilson, & Wilson, 2019).

With trichomoniasis, symptoms could pop up anywhere from 5 to 28 days after exposure (Wilson, & Wilson, 2019).

But it’s also possible not to notice any symptoms, or they might be so mild that you don’t realise something’s wrong. That’s why, if you think you’ve been exposed to something that could cause urethritis, it’s a good idea to see a doctor, even if you feel fine. They can check things out and help you get any treatment you might need.

If you don’t diagnose and treat MUS (Wilson, & Wilson, 2019):

Increased risk of spreading the infection to other parts of the body or other people.

This syndrome can spread to the epididymis (a tube that carries sperm) and the testicles, causing pain, swelling, and potentially leading to infertility.

Prostatitis can develop.

The infection can spread to the prostate gland, causing prostatitis, which is prostate inflammation. Symptoms can include pain, difficulty urinating, and sexual dysfunction.

What Happens If You Ignore Male Urethritis Syndrome?

✔ Strictures could develop.

This means that scar tissue may form in the urethra due to the infection, causing this tube to narrow or even blocking it (strictures). This can make urinating difficult, which may lead to the need for surgical treatment.

Is Male Urethritis Syndrome Treatable?

Yes, but the treatment approach really depends on the underlying cause of the urethritis (Wilson, & Wilson, 2019):

If it’s caused by bacteria, including STIs like gonorrhoea, or chlamydia, antibiotics are the standard treatment. If it’s Trichomoniasis, the treatment will also differ. So it’s crucial to test and find out if MUS is being caused by one of these infections.

For urethritis caused by viruses, treatment may focus on managing symptoms.

If the urethritis is due to chemical irritants or physical injury, avoiding the source of irritation and possibly using supportive treatments to reduce symptoms can lead to recovery.

How To Test For Male Urethritis Syndrome With Epicentre

To determine the cause of MUS, Epicentre offers a range of STI tests, including gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and Trichomoniasis testing.

To get an STI Package:

✔ Either walk in or book online for one of our branches and request our STI package. Or book one of our STI Test In A Box!

✔ Ask to include the gonorrhoea test.

Gonorrhoea is not part of our regular STI package, so it is very important that you specifically request this test.

✔ If you’re confused simply contact our team.

Testing For Male Urethritis Syndrome With Epicentre

1. Book an appointment online or just come through to one of our branches.

2. When you arrive, tick on our form that you would like our STI package including a Gonorrhoea STI test.

Choose just the Gonorrhoea STIs, get the whole package, or add on particular STIs to screen for.

4. Our nurse will take you through to our blood collection lounge.

5. Our nurses are trained to make collecting a blood sample as painless and comfortable as possible. Sit back and relax.

4. Your sample will then be sent to our laboratory. You will receive an SMS and email with a link to your result.

Why Is STI Testing The Start Of A Health Relationship

Regular STI testing helps to protect both partners from potential infections and prevent the spread of STIs to others. It is also a sign of respect and trust for each other, as it shows that both partners are committed to maintaining their sexual health and the health of their relationship.

STI testing is crucial as it begins a relationship with open communication and honesty, which are crucial components of any healthy relationship. By starting with STI testing, partners can set the foundation for a strong and lasting relationship built on mutual respect, trust, and a shared commitment to sexual health.

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