NHS Choices - Treating gonorrhoea
It is important to receive treatment for gonorrhoea quickly. It is unlikely the infection will go away without treatment and, if you delay treatment, you risk the infection causing complications and more serious health problems. You may also pass the infection onto someone else.
Gonorrhoea is treated with a single dose of antibiotics, usually one of the following:
The antibiotics are usually given as an injection but sometimes a pill can be used, which is taken orally.
Recently, it has become apparent that some strains of gonorrhoea are becoming resistant to some antibiotics, particularly antibiotics that have been used heavily in the past, like penicillin, so these tend not to be used.
If there is a high chance that you have gonorrhoea, you may be given treatment before you get your results back. You will usually be offered treatment if your partner is found to have gonorrhoea.
You should avoid sexual intercourse and intimate contact with other partners until you (and your partner) have both finished the course of treatment. This is to prevent reinfection or passing the infection onto anyone else.
Babies who display signs of a gonorrhoea infection at birth, such as inflammation of the eyes (conjunctivitis), or who are at increased risk of infection because the mother has gonorrhoea, will usually be given antibiotics immediately after birth. This is to prevent blindness and other complications of gonorrhoea developing and does not harm the baby.
Treatment is at least 95% effective but you may need to go back for a follow-up test if:
- The signs and symptoms do not go away.
- You had unprotected sex with your partner in the week following treatment.
- You think you have come into contact with gonorrhoea again.
- You had gonorrhoea of the throat.
- Your test was negative but you develop symptoms of gonorrhoea.
In these situations, you may need a repeat test.
If the antibiotics have been effective, you should soon notice an improvement in your symptoms.
- Pain and discharge when you urinate should improve within two to three days.
- Pain and discharge in your rectum should improve within two to three days.
- Bleeding between periods, or extra heavy periods, should improve by the time of your next period.
- Pain in your pelvis or testicles should start to improve quickly but could take up to two weeks to go away.
If you have pelvic pain or experience pain during sex that does not go away after treatment, see your doctor or nurse. You may need further treatment, or it may be necessary to investigate other causes of pain.
Gonorrhoea is easily passed on through intimate sexual contact. If you are diagnosed with it, anyone you have recently had sex with may have it too. It is important that your current partner and any other recent sexual partners are tested and treated.
Your local genitourinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinic may be able to help by notifying any of your previous partners on your behalf. A contact slip can be sent to them explaining that they may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and suggesting that they go for a check-up. The slip sometimes notes what the infection is but will not have your name on it, so your confidentiality is protected.
If you or your current partner is diagnosed with gonorrhoea, don't have sex until you have both finished your treatment course.