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Gonorrhea: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection spread through sexual contact (sexually transmitted infection, or STI). It is found most often in the genital area but it can also infect other areas of the body, such as the rectum or throat. While most people with gonorrhea develop symptoms within a few days after infection, some people have no symptoms. Symptoms of gonorrhea include abnormal bleeding, pain or burning during urination, or a thick discharge from the vagina or penis.

Antibiotics can cure gonorrhea. Both sex partners need to be treated to keep from passing the infection back and forth.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Your doctor probably gave you a shot of antibiotics. If your doctor prescribed antibiotic pills, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Do not have sexual contact with anyone while you are being treated. If your treatment was a single dose of antibiotics, wait at least 7 days after taking the dose before you have any sexual contact. Even if you use a condom, you may pass the infection back and forth.
  • Wash your hands if you touch an area of gonorrhea infection. This will help prevent spreading the infection to other parts of your body or to other people.
  • Tell your sex partner or partners that you have gonorrhea. They should get treated, whether or not they have symptoms of infection.
  • Talk to your doctor about being tested again for gonorrhea in 3 months.

To prevent gonorrhea in the future

  • Use latex condoms every time you have sex. Use them from the beginning to the end of sexual contact.
  • Talk to your partner before you have sex. Find out if he or she has or is at risk for gonorrhea or any other STI. Keep in mind that a person may be able to spread an STI even if he or she does not have symptoms.
  • Do not have sex if you are being treated for gonorrhea or any other STI.
  • Do not have sex with anyone who has symptoms of an STI, such as sores on the genitals or mouth.
  • Having one sex partner (who does not have STIs and does not have sex with anyone else) is a good way to avoid STIs.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have sudden, severe pain in your belly or pelvis.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new belly or pelvic pain.
  • You have unusual vaginal bleeding.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a discharge from the vagina or penis.
  • You have new or increased burning or pain with urination, or you cannot urinate.
  • You have pain, swelling, or tenderness in the scrotum.
  • You have joint pain.
  • You have pus coming from your eyes.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You think you may have been exposed to another STI.
  • Your symptoms get worse or have not improved within 1 week after starting treatment.
  • You have any new symptoms, such as sores, bumps, rashes, blisters, or warts in the genital or anal area.
  • You have a new skin rash.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.