Mans torso with man itching pelvic area

What Does an Itchy Urethra in Males Mean?

Medically reviewed by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP on November 27, 2023. 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.

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Experiencing an itchy urethra can be uncomfortable and frustrating, especially if you’re not sure what’s causing it. If you’re a sexually active adult and haven’t been screened for a sexually transmitted infection recently, undergoing testing is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your health (and identify the root cause of your distress).

Beyond STIs, there are several other possible causes of urethritis—the clinical term for urethral itching and irritation. [1] Before scheduling an appointment with your healthcare provider, take a look below at some possible causes and treatment options to inform your healthcare journey.

What Is Urethritis?

Urethritis is not a disease in itself. Rather, it’s a symptom involving an inflammation of the urethra—the urinary organ through which urine and semen pass out of the body. Often, it manifests as an itchy penis. [1]

Sometimes, urethra itching male issues are accompanied by symptoms apart from discomfort. If you have urethritis, you may also notice [1,5]:

  • Dysuria, i.e., a burning sensation when you pee
  • Discharge, which may have a pus-like or bloody appearance
  • Pain when you have sex (dyspareunia)
  • More rarely, itchy or flaking skin around the penis (pruritus)

There are several possible causes of urethritis in males, so you’ll want to get a thorough evaluation and diagnosis from a healthcare provider. Until you receive your diagnosis, you might try soothing genital itching and physical discomfort by taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen. [2]

However, it’s important to remember painkillers are only a short-term solution. For male itching urethra, getting a proper diagnosis can ensure you’re treated quickly—and if your urethritis is caused by a sexually transmitted infection, treatment can also reduce your chances of passing it on to someone else.

Possible Urethritis Causes

There are several possible causes of urethral itching and discharge in men. Two of the most common are sexually transmitted diseases, gonorrhea (gonococcal urethritis) and chlamydia (a form of non-gonococcal urethritis). [1]

Gonorrhea (Gonococcal Urethritis)

Gonorrhea is a bacterial STI that frequently causes severe urethral itching and discomfort. [2] The bacterial infection can be transmitted through both oral and penetrative sex.[2]

If you’ve contracted gonorrhea, you might also notice [2]:

  • Penile discharge that looks yellow or green
  • Swelling of the testicles that’s painful to touch

Fortunately, gonorrhea is treatable with antibiotics.

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Like gonorrhea, chlamydia is also a bacterial STI. [4] You can contract chlamydia if you come into contact with infected semen or vaginal secretions, whether it be through penetrative sex, oral sex, or sharing props or sex toys. [4]

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that often presents with no symptoms, but if you are symptomatic, you may notice [4]:

  • A whitish or yellow discharge with a foul odor
  • Feeling a sense of urgency to urinate
  • Burning or pain during urination

Chlamydia treatment often includes antibiotics.

Other Possible Causes of Urethritis

If the itchy urethra males have isn’t the result of gonorrhea or chlamydia, it could be [1]:

  • Trichomoniasis – Trichomoniasis (also called “trich”) is another STI caused by a parasite. In addition to itching, you might notice a discharge that has a bad odor. Typically, you’ll treat trichomoniasis by taking a medicine known as metronidazole for 1 week. [5]
  • Personal care products – Sometimes, personal care products can enter the urethra and cause itching and discomfort.2 This includes spermicides, lotions, body washes, and other products, particularly those that contain fragrances or other irritating chemicals. [2]

When an STI test or other evaluation can’t identify the cause of urethritis, your healthcare provider may diagnose you with urethral syndrome—a general term for urethral discomfort.

What about an itchy urethra with no discharge? Male patients who experience this might be having an allergic reaction. In this case, you’ll need to work with your healthcare provider to arrive at an effective, individualized treatment plan to help assuage your symptoms.

How to Treat Urethritis

There are many possible causes of urethritis, so the best way to treat your irritation will depend on the root problem. If you don’t use an at-home STI test, you can visit an in-person clinic for assessment. A healthcare provider will likely evaluate you with [5]:

  • A physical examination, where they’ll look at your skin, throat, lymph nodes, and urethra
  • A urine test

Treating STI-Related Urethritis

One of the most important features of treating STI-related urethritis is making a follow-up appointment. The CDC urges people diagnosed with an STI to make a follow-up appointment several months after receiving their initial diagnosis. [5] You’ll also want to abstain from sexual activity for at least 7 days following the start of treatment or until your symptoms have abated. [5] When you do start having sex again, be sure to use a barrier method of contraception like latex condoms to protect yourself and your sexual partner(s) from contracting STIs in the future. [5]

Test for STIs at Home with Everlywell

Although it can be frustrating to wonder, “why does my urethra itch,” male patients can find answers with help from Everlywell. If you believe you have urethritis from an STI, check out our at-home STI Test – Male.

With this at-home test, you can screen for 6 common STIs that could be to blame for your itching. If your test results indicate a need for further treatment, Everlywell will connect you to a certified healthcare provider who can counsel you on treatment options to help you feel better faster. Or, you can even meet with a clinician virtually who will discuss your symptoms and can provide STD treatment online.

For more at-home Sexual Health tests from Everlywell, check out our online collection today.

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  1. Professional, Cleveland Clinic medical. “Urethritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 27 Oct. 2023.
  2. “Urethritis in Men.” Saint Luke’s Health System, Accessed 27 Oct. 2023.
  3. “Gonorrhea.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Apr. 2023,
  4. professional, Cleveland Clinic medical. “Chlamydia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 27 Oct. 2023.
  5. Sell, Jarrett, et al. “Urethritis: Rapid Evidence Review.” American Family Physician, 1 May 2021,
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