Gonorrhea guide

Gonorrhea signs and symptoms


Most of the time, gonorrhea is silent...you can have the infection and not know it. That's why getting tested is so important.

If you do show symptoms, they'll typically occur within two to eight days after sexual contact.

Gonorrhea symptoms in women

Common

  • No symptoms
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Burning or painful urination
  • Bleeding after sex or between periods

Uncommon

  • Pelvic pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Nausea or fever
  • Pain during sex
  • Sore throat
  • Rash
  • Rectal discharge, pain or bleeding

Gonorrhea symptoms in men

Common

  • No symptoms
  • Discharge from penis
  • Burning or painful urination

Uncommon

  • Burning, discomfort or itching around the opening of the penis
  • Testicular pain or swelling
  • Sore throat
  • Rash
  • Rectal discharge, pain or bleeding

Throat or rectal symptoms

Both men and women who have anal sex and get rectal infections may experience gonorrhea symptoms...including rectal discharge, pain or bleeding, or swelling of the rectum.

Additionally, a sore throat could simply mean strep throat or a virus...but, if you've have had oral sex recently, it could mean oral chlamydia or, more commonly, gonorrhea in the throat. If swallowing feels painful, or you have swollen glands or a fever – and you test negative for strep – it's a good idea to consult your regular doctor for a throat examination and a thorough swab test which cannot be done at a standard testing facility.

Last reviewed by Lisa Oldson, MD, January 2011.

Lisa Oldson, MD

STD expert

"The first thing I tell a patient about STDs is that if you're worried about one STD, you should probably worry about all STDs. In other words, if you had unprotected sex and you're worried about a possible HIV exposure, it's important to understand that hepatitis can be spread in the same fashion...ditto for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis."