Gonorrhea – Symptoms and Treatment
Many people with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms at all.
In men, symptoms appear two to five days after infection; symptoms can take as long as 30 days to appear. Symptoms in men include:
- Burning sensation when urinating
- White, yellow or green discharge from the penis
- Painful or swollen testicles (although this is less common)
In women, the symptoms of gonorrhea are often mild, and are sometimes mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Symptoms in women include:
- Painful or burning sensation when urinating
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
Symptoms of rectal (anal) infection in both men and women include:
- Anal itching
- Painful bowel movements
Symptoms of throat infection may cause a sore throat.
Several laboratory tests are used to diagnose gonorrhea. Some can be performed on urine; other tests require a sample be collected from a site such as the cervix, urethra, rectum or throat. The Sexual Health Clinic uses a urine test for gonorrhea for all clients.
Several antibiotics can cure gonorrhea. However, drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing and successful treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more difficult. If symptoms continue for more than a few days after you start receiving treatment, return to your health care provider to be checked.
Because many people with gonorrhea also have chlamydia, another STD, antibiotics for both infections are usually given together. People with gonorrhea should be tested for other STDs.
It is important to take all of the medication prescribed to cure gonorrhea. Although medication will cure the infection, damage done by the disease is permanent. Having gonorrhea does not mean a person can’t get it again. Contact a Health Care Provider if symptoms continue after getting treatment.
Risks of Untreated Gonorrhea
Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men.
In women, gonorrhea is a common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Women with PID may have severe abdominal pain and fever. PID can lead to internal abscesses (pus-filled “pockets” that are hard to cure) and long-lasting pelvic pain. PID can damage the fallopian tubes enough to cause infertility or increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy (life-threatening pregnancy outside the uterus).
In men, gonorrhea can cause epididymitis, a painful condition of the testicles that can lead to infertility if not treated.
Gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints. This condition can cause death.
Untreated gonorrhea can increase a person’s risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV.
Gonorrhea’s Effect on Babies
If a pregnant woman has gonorrhea, she may give the infection to her baby during a vaginal delivery. This can cause blindness, joint infection or a life-threatening blood infection in the baby.
Treatment of gonorrhea as soon as it is detected in pregnant women will reduce the risk of these problems. Pregnant women should see a doctor for examination, testing and treatment, if needed.
Where can I get more information?
See your health care provider, visit the Sexual Health Clinic webpages or call the Sexual Health Clinic at (702) 759-0702.
Updated on: April 10, 2019