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Antibiotics for Gonorrhea

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
azithromycinZithromax
ceftriaxoneRocephin
doxycyclineDoryx, Vibramycin

How It Works

Antibiotics kill the gonorrhea bacteria. Combinations of antibiotics are used to treat gonorrhea.

Why It Is Used

These antibiotics are used to treat:

  • A person who has a positive gonorrhea test.
  • Sex partners (within the past 60 days) of a person diagnosed with gonorrhea, whether or not they have symptoms or used condoms.
  • A newborn whose mother has gonorrhea at the time of delivery.

How Well It Works

Antibiotic treatment, when taken exactly as directed, normally cures gonorrhea infections. If antibiotics are not taken properly, the infection will not be cured.

Certain strains of the gonorrhea bacteria have become increasingly resistant to some antibiotics, including quinolones, penicillin, tetracycline, and sulfa drugs as well as some cephalosporins used to treat gonorrhea. When bacteria become resistant to an antibiotic, they no longer can be killed by that medicine. Experts recommend using combinations of antibiotics to treat gonorrhea.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call911or other emergency services right away if you have:

Call your doctor right away if you have:

Common side effects of these medicines include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Citations

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Update to CDC's Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010: Oral Cephalosporins No Longer a Recommended Treatment for Gonococcal Infections. MMRW, 61(31) 590-594. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6131a3.htm?s_cid=mm6131a3_w.

Other Works Consulted

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Update to CDC's Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010: Oral Cephalosporins No Longer a Recommended Treatment for Gonococcal Infections. MMRW, 61(31) 590-594. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6131a3.htm?s_cid=mm6131a3_w.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerPeter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
Last RevisedMarch 26, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 26, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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