What are the causes of urethritis?

Updated: Dec 18, 2020
  • Author: Dustin L Whitaker, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Urethritis may be gonococcal, nongonococcal, or mixed.

Gonococcal urethritis (80% of cases) is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is a gram-negative intracellular diplococcus. Gonococcal urethritis has a shorter incubation period than nongonococcal urethritis (NGU), and the onset of dysuria and purulent discharge is abrupt.

NGU, which comprises 50% of urethritis cases, has a longer incubation period than gonococcal urethritis, and the onset of either dysuria or, less commonly, a mucopurulent discharge, is subacute. Patients with NGU are much more likely to be asymptomatic than are patients with gonococcal urethritis.

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