Mans torso with man itching pelvic area

What does an itchy urethra in males mean?

Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on May 15, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


Is your urethra—the tube that takes urine from the bladder and out of the body—feeling uncomfortable? If so, it can help to know that genital discharge and an itchy urethra in males can be a tell-tale sign of certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).


Easily check for sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STDs or STIs) from the privacy of home with our at-home STD test for men. This test lets you screen for 6 common sexually transmitted infections, and gives you secure, online results quickly.


Keep reading to learn about the STDs that cause itching, related symptoms, how you can find out if an STD is behind your symptoms, and more.

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What can cause an itchy urethra and urethral discharge?

There are several possible causes of urethral itching and discharge in men. However, two of the most common are gonorrhea (gonococcal urethritis) and chlamydia (a form of non-gonococcal urethritis). Both STDs spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. (If you think you have one of these STDs, consider getting tested with a comprehensive STD Test for men to potentially narrow down the cause of your symptoms. Many STDs have overlapping symptoms—for example, trichomoniasis symptoms in men can be similar to gonorrhea symptoms and chlamydia symptoms—so testing for multiple STDs can be a good idea.)

As for the symptoms of gonorrhea and chlamydia, you can have a sexually transmitted infection and not even know it. For example, when it comes to chlamydia symptoms, 75% of women and 50% of men don’t show any signs of urethritis. This can make it easy to unknowingly spread these infections through sexual activity.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia and gonorrhea in men?

Chlamydia symptoms

Some chlamydial infections occur without causing any noticeable STD symptoms. That being said, however, the following symptoms can develop in men:

  • A burning or itchy urethra
  • Clear or cloudy urethral discharge from the penis
  • Pain and/or swelling of the testicles
  • Burning/painful urination

Untreated chlamydia in men may cause long-term health problems over time. So if you have these or similar symptoms, consider testing for chlamydia and consulting with your healthcare provider. In most cases, prompt treatment can effectively clear up the chlamydia infection and eliminate symptoms.

Gonorrhea symptoms

As is the case with chlamydia, you can have gonorrhea without experiencing any noticeable symptoms. However, if a man does have symptoms of gonorrhea, he may experience:

  • Burning/itching urination
  • Painful or swollen testicles
  • Green, white, or yellow urethral discharge
  • Anal bleeding, discharge, soreness, or itchiness
  • Painful bowel movements

Experiencing symptoms like these? Find out if it’s because of gonorrhea with an at-home gonorrhea test.

Untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea in men: long-term health effects

These STDs can go undetected for months or years if they don’t cause any symptoms—and if you don't get tested for STDs regularly. Over time, these infections can harm your health if they aren’t treated. For example:

  • The infection can affect the epididymis (the tube carrying the sperm from the testes), causing testicular pain and swelling.
  • Fertility issues can also develop due to an untreated chlamydia infection in men.

Fortunately, effective treatments for chlamydia and gonorrhea exist. That’s why it’s important to routinely test for STDs and receive a prompt diagnosis if you have a sexually transmitted infection—allowing you to get health-protecting treatment as soon as possible.

Diagnosis and treatment for discharge and an itchy urethra

If you’re experiencing an itchy urethra, penile discharge, or any other symptoms of an STD, speak with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They may recommend testing for sexually transmitted infections—including gonorrhea and chlamydia—to help diagnose the cause of your STD symptoms.

You may prefer to get tested from the comfort of your home. In this case, you can order our at-home Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test. If you receive a positive result on this test, you have the option to speak with a physician in our network—who may prescribe medication to treat the infection, if appropriate.

Also consider taking the at-home STD Test for men—which checks for 6 common sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.


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References

1. Diagnosis and Treatment of Urethritis in Men. American Family Physician. URL. Accessed May 15, 2020.

2. Korenromp EL, Sudaryo MK, de Vlas SJ, et al. What proportion of episodes of gonorrhoea and chlamydia becomes symptomatic?. Int J STD AIDS. 2002;13(2):91‐101. doi:10.1258/0956462021924712

3. Chlamydia - CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed May 15, 2020.

4. Gonorrhea - CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed May 15, 2020.

5. Chlamydia Treatment. National Health Service. URL. Accessed May 15, 2020.

6. Gonorrhea - Diagnosis and Treatment. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed May 15, 2020.

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