Gonorrhea Home > Treatment for Gonorrhea

Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed treatment for gonorrhea. However, drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing in many areas of the world, which means that successful treatment of the disease is becoming more difficult. Treatment is extremely important, because serious complications can occur -- including pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic pregnancy -- if the condition is left untreated.

An Overview of Treating Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea treatment generally involves taking antibiotics. Several antibiotics can successfully cure gonorrhea in adolescents and adults. However, drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing in many areas of the world, including the United States, and it is becoming more difficult to treat the condition successfully.
Many people with gonorrhea also have chlamydia, which is another sexually transmitted infection (STI). Therefore, antibiotics for both infections are usually given together. It is important for people with gonorrhea to be tested for other sexually transmitted infections.

Instructions for Gonorrhea Treatment

It is important to take all of the medication prescribed by your doctor to cure gonorrhea. Although medication will stop the infection, it will not repair any permanent damage caused by it. If you have gonorrhea, you should talk with all of your sexual partners, because they should get tested for gonorrhea, too, even if they do not have any gonorrhea symptoms. If you have gonorrhea, you should avoid sexual contact until you and your partner(s) have been treated and cured.
People who have had gonorrhea and have been treated can get the infection again if they have sexual contact with people who have the disease. If a person's symptoms continue even after receiving treatment, he or she should return to the doctor to be reevaluated.

What Happens Without Treatment?

When left untreated, gonorrhea can cause serious complications, which include:
  • Increased risk of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) or spreading the virus to others
  • Widespread infection to other parts of the body, like the blood, joints, or heart
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women.
PID is an infection in a woman's pelvic organs, such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Women with PID do not necessarily have symptoms. However, when symptoms of PID are present, they can be severe and include:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Backache
  • Irregular periods
  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal discharge.
This infection can lead to infertility, and it can also cause ectopic pregnancy, in which an egg implants in the fallopian tube. This can cause miscarriage and possibly the death of the mother. PID can also cause long-lasting, chronic pelvic pain.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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