Gonorrhea can be easily cured with antibiotics. Your sexual partners need to be treated, too. If you don’t treat gonorrhea, it can lead to serious health problems.

Want to get tested for gonorrhea? Find a Health Center →
 

What’s the treatment for gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is usually super easy to get rid of. Your nurse or doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Some strains of gonorrhea resist the antibiotics and are hard to treat, so your doctor may give you two antibiotics, in shot and pill form. Sometimes you only have to take one pill. Other gonorrhea pill treatments are taken for 7 days. Your doctor will help you figure out which treatment is best for you.

If you’re treated for gonorrhea, it’s really important for your sexual partners to get treated also. Otherwise, you may pass the infection back and forth, or to other people. Sometimes your doctor will give you medicine for both you and your partner.

What do I need to know if I get treated for gonorrhea?

If you’re getting treated for gonorrhea:

  • Take all of your medicine the way your doctor tells you to, even if your symptoms go away sooner. The infection stays in your body until you totally finish the antibiotics.

  • Your partner(s) should also get treated for gonorrhea so you don’t re-infect each other or anyone else.

  • Don’t have sex for 7 days. If you only have 1 dose of medication, wait until a week after you take it to have sex. If you’re taking medicine for 7 days, don’t have sex until you’ve finished all of your pills.

  • Get tested again in 3 months to make sure your infection is gone.

  • Don’t share your medicine with anyone. Your doctor may give you a separate dose of antibiotics for your partner. Make sure you both take all of the medicine you get.

  • If you still have symptoms after you finish your treatment, call your doctor.

  • Even if you finish your treatment and the gonorrhea is totally gone, it’s possible to get infected with gonorrhea again. Gonorrhea isn’t a one-time-only deal. So use condoms and get tested regularly.

What happens if you don’t get treated for gonorrhea?

Even though gonorrhea is common and doesn’t always cause symptoms, it can become a big deal if it’s not treated.

Gonorrhea can spread to your uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID might not have any symptoms at first, but it can cause permanent damage that may lead to chronic pain, infertility, or ectopic pregnancy. Getting tested for gonorrhea really lowers your chances of getting PID.

If you have a penis, an untreated gonorrhea infection can spread to your epididymis (a tube that carries sperm from your testicles), and can cause pain in your testicles. Rarely, it can make you infertile.

Having gonorrhea also increases your chances of getting or spreading HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Rarely, untreated gonorrhea may spread to your blood, skin, heart, or joints and lead to serious health problems, or even death.

If you have gonorrhea while you’re pregnant and don’t treat it, it can be passed to your baby when you’re giving birth. This can lead to problems for the baby, including blindness, joint infections, or blood infections which can be deadly.

The best way to avoid all these problems? Get tested and treated early.