Gonorrhea is caused by a bacterium that is transmitted from an infected partner during sex. This can happen during oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
Gonorrhea is most common among sexually active young adults. Other factors that increase your chances of getting gonorrhea include:
Most people who have gonorrhea do not have symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may appear 1-14 days after exposure. In some cases, symptoms do not occur for up to a month.
Symptoms in men may include:
Symptoms in women may include:
Symptoms in men and women with rectal infections may include:
Gonorrhea can also cause serious health complications.
Complications in men include:
Complications in women include:
Untreated gonorrhea can cause severe infections in:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is based on tests.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. Some strains of gonorrhea have developed resistance to certain antibiotics. You and your doctor will work together to find an antibiotic that is effective.
It is important to take all medication as prescribed. Also, all of your sexual partners should be tested and treated. Do not have sex until you and your partners have completed treatment and symptoms are gone.
To reduce your chances of getting gonorrhea, take these steps:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada
Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/arg/default.htm. Updated October 21, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2016.
Gonococcal cervicitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113822/Gonococcal-cervicitis. Updated February 15, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Gonococcal urethritis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115615/Gonococcal-urethritis. Updated April 8, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Gonorrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/. Updated December 9, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2016.
Gonorrhea—CDC fact sheet. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/gonorrhea/pages/default.aspx. Updated July 28, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2016.
Workowski KA, Berman S, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.
3/17/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2014 Dec 16;161(12):902-10.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Marcie Sidman, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.