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Gonorrhea

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Can Gonorrhea Be Cured?

Yes. Gonorrhea can be treated and cured.

How Is Gonorrhea Treated?

To cure a gonorrhea infection, your doctor will give you either an oral or injectable antibiotic. Your partner should also be treated at the same time to prevent reinfection and further spread of the disease.

It is important to take all of your antibiotics even if you feel better. Also, never take someone else's medication to treat your illness. By doing so, you may make the infection more difficult to treat. In addition,

  • Tell anyone you have had sex with recently that you are infected. This is important because gonorrhea may have no symptoms. Women, especially, may not have symptoms and may not seek testing or treatment unless alerted by their sex partners.
  • Don't have sex until you have completed taking all of your medicine.
  • Always use condoms when having sex.

What Happens if I Don't Treat Gonorrhea?

Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent problems in both women and men.

In women, if left untreated, the infection can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which may damage the fallopian tubes (the tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus) or even lead to infertility, and untreated gonorrhea infection could increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg implants and develops outside the uterus), a dangerous condition for both the mother and baby.

In men, gonorrhea can cause epididymitis, a painful condition of the testicles that can sometimes lead to infertility if left untreated. Without prompt treatment, gonorrhea can also affect the prostate and can lead to scarring inside the urethra, making urination difficult.

Gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life-threatening. Also, people with gonorrhea can more easily contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. People with HIV infection and gonorrhea are more likely than people with HIV infection alone to transmit HIV to someone else.

How Does Gonorrhea Affect Pregnancy and Childbirth?

Gonorrhea in a pregnant woman can cause premature delivery or spontaneous abortion. The infected mother may give the infection to her infant as the baby passes through the birth canal during delivery. This can cause blindness, joint infection, or a life-threatening blood infection in the baby. Treatment of gonorrhea as soon as it is detected in pregnant women will lessen the risk of these complications. Pregnant women should consult a doctor for appropriate medications.

How Can I Prevent Gonorrhea Infection?

To reduce your risk of gonorrhea infection:

  • Use condoms correctly every time you have sex.
  • Limit the number of sex partners, and do not go back and forth between partners.
  • Practice sexual abstinence, or limit sexual contact to one uninfected partner.
  • If you think you are infected, avoid sexual contact and see a doctor.

Any genital symptoms such as discharge or burning during urination or an unusual sore or rash should be a signal to stop having sex and to consult a doctor immediately. If you are told you have gonorrhea or any other STD and receive treatment, you should notify all of your recent sex partners so that they can see a doctor and be treated.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Marina Katz, MD on July 30, 2012
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