Diagnosis

To determine whether you have gonorrhea, your doctor will analyze a sample of cells. Samples can be collected by:

  • Urine test. This can help identify bacteria in your urethra.
  • Swab of affected area. A swab of your throat, urethra, vagina or rectum can collect bacteria that can be identified in a lab.

For women, home test kits are available for gonorrhea. They include vaginal swabs for self-testing that are sent to a specified lab for testing. You can choose to be notified by email or text message when your results are ready. You can view your results online or receive them by calling a toll-free hotline.

Testing for other sexually transmitted infections

Your doctor may recommend tests for other sexually transmitted infections. Gonorrhea increases your risk of these infections, particularly chlamydia, which often accompanies gonorrhea.

Testing for HIV also is recommended for anyone diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. Depending on your risk factors, tests for additional sexually transmitted infections could be beneficial as well.

Treatment

Gonorrhea treatment in adults

Adults with gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics. Due to emerging strains of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that uncomplicated gonorrhea be treated with the antibiotic ceftriaxone — given as an injection — with oral azithromycin (Zithromax).

If you're allergic to cephalosporin antibiotics, such as ceftriaxone, you might be given oral gemifloxacin (Factive) or injectable gentamicin and oral azithromycin.

Gonorrhea treatment for partners

Your partner also should go through testing and treatment for gonorrhea, even if he or she has no signs or symptoms. Your partner receives the same treatment you do. Even if you've been treated for gonorrhea, a partner who isn't treated can pass it to you again.

Gonorrhea treatment for babies

Babies born to mothers with gonorrhea who develop the infection can be treated with antibiotics.

Preparing for your appointment

You'll likely see your family doctor or a general practitioner. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.

Make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, if you have any, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment, and when they began
  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

For gonorrhea, questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What tests do I need?
  • Should I be tested for other sexually transmitted infections?
  • Should my partner be tested for gonorrhea?
  • How long should I wait before resuming sexual activity?
  • How can I prevent gonorrhea in the future?
  • What gonorrhea complications should I be alert for?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
  • Will I need a follow-up visit?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Questions your doctor is likely to ask you include:

  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • Have you been exposed to sexually transmitted infections?

What you can do in the meantime

Abstain from sex until you see your doctor. Alert your sex partners that you're having signs and symptoms so that they can arrange to see their doctors for testing.

Dec. 06, 2019
  1. Gonorrhea: CDC fact sheet (detailed version). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/stdfact-gonorrhea.htm. Accessed Sept. 14, 2019.
  2. Ghanem KG. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection in adults and adolescents. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 14, 2019.
  3. Gonorrhea. Office on Women's Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/gonorrhea. Accessed Sept. 14, 2019.
  4. Gonorrhea. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/gonorrhea. Accessed Sept. 14, 2019.
  5. AskMayoExpert. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and nongonococcal urethritis. Mayo Clinic; 2019.
  6. Speer ME. Gonococcal infection in the newborn. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 18, 2019.