by Badash M



Gonorrhea is type of sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Treatment includes antibiotics, partner notification, and lifestyle changes.


Gonorrhea is caused by a bacterium that is transmitted from an infected partner during sex. This can happen during oral, vaginal, or anal sex.

Risk Factors

Gonorrhea is most common among sexually young adults. Other factors that increase your chances of getting gonorrhea include:
  • Being sexually active
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Having sex without a condom
  • History of STDs


Most people who have gonorrhea do not have symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may appear 1-14 days of exposure. In some cases, symptoms do not occur for up to a month.
Symptoms in men may include:
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Itching sensation in urethra
Symptoms in women may include:
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
Symptoms in men and women with rectal infections may include:
  • Anal itching
  • Soreness
  • Bleeding
  • Painful bowel movements
Gonorrhea can also cause serious health complications.
Complications in men include:
  • Epididymitis —A painful swelling and inflammation of the testicles, which may lead to infertility.
  • Urethritis —The inside of the urethra may become inflamed, which causes burning when passing urine. If scarring occurs, it may cause difficulty with passing urine, or block urine flow completely.
  • Prostatitis —An inflammation of the prostate gland. Symptoms include pain in and around the groin and pelvis, or discomfort when urinating. It may also create flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, body aches, or fatigue.
Complications in women include:
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)—A serious infection that can lead to infertility , even in women who never have symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include pelvic pain and pain with intercourse. PID causes scar tissue, or may cause an abscess to form, in the fallopian tubes.
  • Infection in a newborn infant if you are infected during pregnancy.
Female Reproductive System Organs
Female Reproductive Organs
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Untreated gonorrhea can cause severe infections in:
  • Joints
  • Brain
  • Eyes
  • Heart


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is based on tests.
Tests may include:
  • Nucleic acid test—Discharge or urine is tested for genetic material found in gonorrhea.
  • Laboratory culture—A smear of the discharge is taken and sent to a lab. After two days, the culture is checked for growth of the bacteria.
  • Other STD tests, such as chlamydia , syphilis, or HIV .


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 again until you and your partners have completed treatment and no one has symptoms.
If you are diagnosed with gonorrhea, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .


To reduce your chances of getting gonorrhea, take these steps:
  • Always use a latex condom during sexual activity.
  • Have routine check-ups for STDs if you are a woman under the age of 25. Sexually active young men should consider screening , although there is no specific guideline.
  • Have check-ups often if you have other risk factors for getting STDs.
  • Have a monogamous relationship. Monogamous means only one sexual partner.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


Health Canada
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at Updated May 8, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gonorrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at Updated May 8, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Gonococcal cervicitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated January 20, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Gonococcal urethritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated April 16, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Gonorrhea. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: Updated December 13, 2012. Accessed May 16, 2013.
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 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.

Revision Information

Health Library Search

Only show results from the selected categories.

1 Conjunctivitis condition

Conjunctivitis is swelling and irritation in the eye. It affects the tissue that covers the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelid. This tissue is called the conju...

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious infection of the female reproductive organs. This includes the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. PID can cause scar tis...

4 Urethritis condition

Urethritis is an inflammation, infection, or irritation of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder....

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the sac around the heart. In some cases, the inflammation may cause fluid to build up in the sac and make it difficult for the heart to...

Septic arthritis is a serious infection of the joints caused by bacteria. This infection causes the joint to be filled with pus cells. These pus cells release substances ...

Ophthalmia neonatorum is conjunctivitis that occurs in a newborn. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the surface or covering of the eye. Ophthalmia neonatorum occurs in...

Pericarditis is irritation and swelling of the pericardium, which is the thin sac that surrounds the heart. Extra fluid that builds up between the 2 layers of the pericar...

The endocardium is a thin layer of membrane (tissue) that covers the inner surface of the heart. Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of this membrane. Infection occurs...

10 Osteomyelitis condition

Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. The infection may be: In adults, the pelvis and the bones of the back are the most common sites. In children, the long bones a...