What is the incubation period and symptoms of gonococcal urethritis in men?

Updated: Jan 02, 2020
  • Author: John L Brusch, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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The incubation period of gonococcal urethritis is 2-6 days. Occasionally, 2 weeks may elapse before symptoms such as dysuria; thick, milky discharge; and pruritus occur.

The incubation period of nongonococcal urethritis (NGU) is 2-6 weeks. The symptoms are less severe and the discharge may be clearer than with gonococcal urethritis. Patients are likely to have a higher level of education (ie, 90% of urethritis cases in college health services is NGU) and fewer sexual contacts.

Because patients with urethritis have a thick, milky discharge, the underpants may be impressively stained. Typically, patients with gonorrhea have a thicker, more copious discharge, but significant overlap with chlamydial urethritis is not uncommon.

Gram stain is the key to an immediate diagnosis, although patients frequently have co-infections.

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