Complications of non-gonococcal urethritis

Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU) can have serious complications, although these are rare.

Persistent urethritis

The most common complication of NGU is persistent or recurrent urethritis. This is when you still have urethritis one to three months after being treated for NGU. This affects one or two men in every 10 who are treated for NGU, and can affect women too.

If you still have symptoms two weeks after starting a course of antibiotics, you should return to the genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic or sexual health clinic

Reiter’s syndrome

Reiter’s syndrome, also known as reactive arthritis, is an uncommon complication of NGU. It is estimated that Reiter’s syndrome will affect less than 1 in 100 people with NGU.

Reiter’s syndrome is caused by the body’s natural defence system (immune system) attacking healthy tissue for an unknown reason, rather than the bacteria responsible for NGU.

This can cause:

  • joint pain
  • (conjunctivitis) inflammation of the eyes
  • recurring urethritis

Read more about Reiter’s syndrome.


Epididymo-orchitis is a possible complication of NGU in men. It is a combination of epididymitis and orchitis:

  • epididymitis is inflammation of the epididymis, which is a long coiled tube in the testicles that helps store and transport sperm
  • orchitis is inflammation of the testicles

Epididymo-orchitis affects fewer than 1 in 100 men with NGU.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

In women, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can be a result of NSU if left untreated. PID is a serious condition that can increase the risk of infertility and ectopic pregnancies.

Read more about PID.

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