Gonorrhea, Females and Males

Gonorrhea is an infection. Gonorrhea can be treated with medicines that kill germs (antibiotics). It is necessary that all your sexual partners also be tested for infection and possibly be treated.

CAUSES

Gonorrhea is caused by a germ (bacteria) called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This infection is spread by sexual contact. The contact that spreads gonorrhea from person to person may be oral, anal, or genital sex.

SYMPTOMS

Females

A woman may have gonorrhea infection and no symptoms. The most common symptoms are:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen.

  • Fever, with or without chills.

When these are the most serious problems, the illness is commonly called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Other symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge.

  • Painful intercourse.

  • Burning or itching of the vagina or lips of the vagina.

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding.

  • Pain when urinating.

If the infection is spread by anal sex:

  • Irritation, pain, bleeding, or discharge from the rectum.

If the infection is spread by oral sex with either a man or a woman:

  • Sore throat, fever, and swollen neck lymph glands.

Other problems may include:

  • Long-lasting (chronic) pain in the lower abdomen during menstruation, intercourse, or at other times.

  • Inability to become pregnant.

  • Premature birth.

  • Passing the infection onto a newborn baby. This can cause an eye infection in the infant or more serious health problems.

Males

Less frequently than in women, men may have gonorrhea infection and no symptoms. The most common symptoms are:

  • Discharge from the penis.

  • Pain or burning during urination.

If the infection is spread by anal sex:

  • Irritation, pain, bleeding, or discharge from the rectum.

If the infection is spread by oral sex with either a man or a woman:

  • Sore throat, fever, and swollen neck lymph glands.

DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis is made by exam of the patient and checking a sample of discharge under a microscope for the presence of the bacteria. Discharge may be taken from the urethra, cervix, throat, or rectum.

TREATMENT

It is important to diagnose and treat gonorrhea as soon as possible. This prevents damage to the female or male organs or harm to the newborn baby of an infected woman.

  • Antibiotics are used to treat gonorrhea.

  • Your sex partners should also be examined and treated if needed.

  • Testing and treatment for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may be done when you are diagnosed with gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is an STD. You are at risk for other STDs, which are often transmitted around the same time as gonorrhea. These include:

  • Chlamydia.

  • Syphilis.

  • Trichomonas.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV).

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

  • If left untreated, PID can cause women to be unable to have children (sterile). To prevent sterility in females, it is important to be treated as soon as possible and finish all medicines. Unfortunately, sterility or pregnancy occurring outside the uterus (ectopic) may still occur in fully treated women.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Finish all medicine as prescribed. Incomplete treatment will put you at risk for continued infection.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Do not have sex until treatment is completed, or as instructed by your caregiver.

  • Follow up with your caregiver as directed.

  • If you test positive for gonorrhea, inform your recent sexual partners. They may need an exam and treatment, even if they have no symptoms. They may need treatment even if they test negative for gonorrhea.

Finding out the results of your test

Not all test results are available during your visit. If your test results are not back during the visit, make an appointment with your caregiver to find out the results. Do not assume everything is normal if you have not heard from your caregiver or the medical facility. It is important for you to follow up on all of your test results.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You develop any bad reaction to the medicine you were prescribed. This may include:

  • Rash.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Diarrhea.

  • You have an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C).

  • You have symptoms that do not improve, symptoms that get worse, or you develop increased pain. Males may get pain in the testicles and females may get increased abdominal pain.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.