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Sexual Conditions Health Center

Gonorrhea - Symptoms

It is fairly common for gonorrhea to cause no symptoms, especially in women. The incubation period, the time from exposure to the bacteria until symptoms develop, is usually 2 to 5 days. But sometimes symptoms may not develop for up to 30 days.

Gonorrhea may not cause symptoms until the infection has spread to other areas of the body.

Symptoms in women

In women, the early symptoms are sometimes so mild that they are mistaken for a bladder infection or vaginal infection. Symptoms may include:

  • Painful or frequent urination.
  • Anal itching, discomfort, bleeding, or discharge.
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge.
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding during or after sex or between periods.
  • Genital itching.
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding.
  • Lower abdominal (belly) pain.
  • Fever and general tiredness.
  • Swollen and painful glands at the opening of the vagina (Bartholin glands).
  • Painful sexual intercourse.
  • Sore throat (rare).
  • Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) (rare).

Symptoms in men

In men, symptoms are usually obvious enough that they will cause a man to seek medical treatment before complications occur. But some men have mild or no symptoms and can unknowingly transmit gonorrhea infections to their sex partners. Symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal discharge from the penis (clear or milky at first, and then yellow, creamy, and excessive, sometimes blood-tinged).
  • Painful or frequent urination or urethritis.
  • Anal itching, discomfort, bleeding, or discharge.
  • Sore throat (rare).
  • Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) (rare).

Other Symptoms

Disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) occurs when the gonorrhea infection spreads to sites other than the genitals, such as the joints, skin, heart, or blood. Symptoms of DGI include:

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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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