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Ask Dr. K

I was recently diagnosed with non-specific urethritis and I'm unclear about what causes it. I've never put my penis in anyone's anus or vagina, or had penis to penis contact, so I'm assuming I got it through receptive oral sex. I had no symptoms of NSU --the doctors discovered it during a regular check up.

Here are my questions:
1) Will the person who gave it to me pass it on every time he performs oral sex on someone else? Or did I contract NSU because my penis is particularly sensitive to that personís mouth?
2) If I kissed that person, does it mean that I have the bacteria in my mouth too?
3) Is NSU an STD?
4) Why didn't I have any symptoms?
5) Does the person who I got it from need treatment to get that bacteria cleared from his mouth?
6) Since I didn't have symptoms, if another person performed oral sex on me after I was already infected, does it mean that this person contracted it and will pass it on to someone else?

You ask some very good questions. Some I will answer and others I suggest you visit our website for more information.

Also called non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU), this is an infection in the male penis caused by bacteria such as chlamydia, mycoplasma, ureaplasma or trichomoniasis. NGU is passed from one person to another during anal, vaginal and possibly oral sex. Symptoms may include a mild discharge from the head of the penis and pain or burning upon urination. Female partners of men with NGU need to be treated as if they have chlamydia. Antibiotics are used to cure NGU.

In most cases with an orally transmitted STD, the person may be able to continue to expose people he has oral sex with until treatment is given. Sensitivity of the penis most likely isn't a factor if an infection is present. NSU is a term use to describe a wide range of infections caused by germs such as chlamydia, mycoplasma, ureaplasma or trichomoniasis. In most cases it is treated as an STD.

Not all STDs have symptoms and not everyone who has an STD develops symptoms. That is the importance behind routine STD testing for sexually active people. Sexually active men who have sex with men with multiple partners should get checked every 3-6 months. It's also a good idea for you to inform any of your sex partners that you were recently diagnosed and were treated. It is best to encourage a partner to seek testing as well. Potentially, even without symptoms, you can pass an STD on to other sex partners.

For more information about any of your questions, I suggest you check out our STD chart to find out the risks associated with different sexual activities. Call the San Francisco City Clinic at 415-487-5500 to get tested for any STD. For NSU, antibiotics should treat the problem. For further information, you can also call the Center for Disease Control STD hotline at 1-800-232-4636. When you call, you can speak to someone directly and ask any questions related to STD transmission, risk, and prevention.

To your health,
Dr. K

Last modified on Thursday, November 19, 2009.
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