Herpes Virus Can Cause Urethritis (Inflammation of the Urethra)

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inflammation of the urethra

Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU), or inflammation of the urethra, is the most common treatable sexually transmitted syndrome in men.BMC Infectious Diseases

A study published on July 29, 2015 noted that the herpes simplex virus may cause inflammation of the urethra. Dr. Harold Moi and colleagues noted that Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU), or inflammation of the urethra, can be caused by “Ureaplasma urealyticum, Trichomonas vaginalis, anaerobes, Herpes simplex virus (HSV) and adenovirus.” (1) Dr. Moi is from the Olafia Clinic, Oslo University Hospital, Institute of Medicine at the University of Oslo in Norway.

Study authors wrote that “Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU), or inflammation of the urethra, is the most common treatable sexually transmitted syndrome in men, with approximately 20-50 % of cases being due to infection with Chlamydia trachomatis and 10-30 % Mycoplasma genitalium.” What this means, is that while the herpes virus or the adenovirus CAN cause inflammation of the urethra, the more common cause is Chlamydia.

male reproductive tract

WebMD notes that “The main symptom of urethra inflammation from urethritis is pain with urination (dysuria). In addition to pain, urethritis symptoms include:

  • Feeling the frequent or urgent need to urinate
  • Difficulty starting urination

Urethritis can also cause itching, pain, or discomfort when a person is not urinating.

Other symptoms of urethritis include:

  • Pain during sex
  • Discharge from the urethral opening or vagina
  • In men, blood in the semen or urine” (2)

If a virus is the cause of inflammation in the urethra, “monocytes are present in the microscopical smear.” (1) Monocytes are a type of white blood cells (leukocytes), which are a part of the immune system. However, the researchers stressed that recurrent herpes simplex urethritis should be ruled out, especially if the main symptom is dysuria (painful urination).

When there is a noticeable inflammation of the urethra, seeing a doctor should be on your agenda. You will likely be asked to have some tests done to determine the cause. Some of the tests involved include:

  • Physical examination, including the genitals, abdomen, and rectum
  • Urine tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia, or other bacteria
  • Examination of any discharge under a microscope (2)

Blood tests are often not necessary for the diagnosis of urethritis. But blood tests may be done in certain situations, especially if a viral cause is suspected.

If the cause is bacterial, then antibiotics will likely be prescribed. If the cause is viral, (as with herpes), then Famvir (famciclovir), Valtrex (valacyclovir), or Zovirax (acyclovir) may be prescribed. There are also certain natural products can be taken to help fight latent viral infections.

The bottom line?

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, such as painful urination, especially on a frequent basis, then seeing a doctor and getting tested is highly recommended.



  1. Harald Moi,corresponding author Karla Blee, and Patrick J Horner “Management of non-gonococcal urethritis” BMC Infect Dis. 2015; 15: 294.
  2. WebMD.com – Urethritis



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