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Treatment Overview

Gonorrhea causes no long-term problems if it is treated early in the course of the infection before any complications develop. Untreated gonorrhea can lead to many complications.

Initial treatment

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. Treatment is recommended for:

  • A person who has a positive gonorrhea test.
  • Anyone who has had sexual contact in the past 60 days with 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.

If you are prescribed more than one dose of an antibiotic, be sure to take your antibiotic exactly as directed. If you miss doses or don't take the full course of medicine, the gonorrhea infection may not be cured.

Do not have sexual contact with anyone:

  • While you are being treated.
  • Until both you and your partner(s) have been tested and treated. If you are treated for gonorrhea and your sex partner is not, you will probably become infected again.

If your treatment is a single dose of antibiotic, wait at least 7 days after taking the dose before having any sexual contact.

Always use a condom when you have sex. This helps protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Treatment if the condition does not get better

Symptoms that do not go away after treatment may be caused by another gonorrhea infection or treatment failure.

Certain strains of the gonorrhea bacteria have become resistant to some antibiotics, including quinolones, penicillin, tetracycline, and sulfa drugs. When bacteria become resistant to an antibiotic, they no longer can be killed by that medicine.3

If you have been treated for gonorrhea and don't get better, you may be retested with a gonorrhea culture to see if there is bacterial resistance to the antibiotic you were taking. If there is bacterial resistance, you will need another antibiotic to cure the infection.

What to think about

To prevent reinfection, don't have sex until any partner that might be infected is tested and treated.

Some people who have gonorrhea also have chlamydia. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that drug treatment for gonorrhea also include antibiotics that are effective in treating chlamydia. For more information, see the topic Chlamydia.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a serious complication of gonorrhea that can lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy. To prevent PID, prompt treatment of gonorrhea is important. For more information, see the topic Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).

Disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) occurs when the gonorrhea infection spreads to sites other than the genitals, such as the joints, skin, heart, or blood. Treatment of DGI usually requires hospitalization and antibiotic treatment given intravenously (IV) or into a muscle (intramuscularly, IM).

In the United States, your doctor must report to the state health department that you have gonorrhea.

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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