OBJECTIVE--To assess the prevalence of self-treatment in men with new episode non gonococcal urethritis (NGU). METHOD--Three hundred consecutive men with new episode NGU attending an open access genitourinary medicine clinic were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Details of treatment used before attending the clinic were obtained. RESULTS--Thirty (10%) men had used treatment, for an average of 7 days, prior to the clinic attendance. Agents used included antibiotics (11), savion or iodine (4), vitamin tablets (4), cisapride (2), local anaesthetic gel (2), antiseptic cream (2), cod liver oil (1), ferrous sulphate (1), naproxen (1), clotrimazole cream (1) and a poultice (1). Over 70% of the men reporting antibiotic use had self-medicated and in one case a fixed drug eruption had ensued. CONCLUSION--A significant number of men with NGU self-treat. In addition to the adverse effects of such treatment and the potential effect on culture tests, clinic attendance may be postponed, the use of appropriate therapy delayed, and sexual contacts will remain at risk. Early attendance for treatment and contact tracing is essential and should be actively promoted.
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