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Sexual Conditions Health Center

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How Is Gonorrhea Diagnosed?

To diagnose gonorrhea, your doctor will use a swab to take a sample of fluid from the urethra in men or from the cervix in women. The specimen will then be sent to a lab to be analyzed. You also may be given a throat or anal culture to see if the infection is in your throat or anus. There are other tests which check a urine sample for the presence of the bacteria. You may need to wait for several days for your tests to come back from the lab.

Gonorrhea and chlamydia, another common sexually transmitted disease, often occur together, so you may be tested and treated for both.

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, a condition in which the fertilized egg develops outside the uterus. This is a dangerous condition for both 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.

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