Gonorrhea Symptoms

Reviewed by Frank Cockerill, MD, Mar. 28, 2017

Gonorrhea symptoms in women

Most common

  • No symptoms at all

Less common

  • Increased, unusual (yellowish or bloody or greenish or watery) vaginal discharge
  • Painful urination (more likely to be another STD)
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding
  • Inflamed eye

Least common

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Lower bellyache
  • Low back pain
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Pain during sex
  • Sore throat

Gonorrhea symptoms in men

Most common

  • No symptoms at all (50% infected men show no signs)
  • Yellow-white or greenish-white discharge from penis
  • Painful, frequent urination
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding
  • Inflamed eye

Less common

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Pictures of gonorrhea symptoms

Gonorrhea Symptom 1
Gonorrhea Symptom 2
Gonorrhea Symptom 3
NOTE: These photos represent symptoms of advanced disease.

Most women with gonorrhea have no obvious symptoms.

Just because you don't have any signs of gonorrhea doesn't mean you don't have an infection. Gonorrhea may lead to more serious risks, including increasing your risk of getting another STD like HIV. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all sexually active women, including those who are pregnant, get tested for a gonorrhea infection to prevent harmful complications if left unnoticed, undiagnosed, and untreated.

Some men with gonorrhea don't have signs or symptoms either.

As with women, gonorrhea can be a "silent" STD for men. Men are more likely than women to have pain when they urinate or see discharge from their penis. However, gonorrhea can go unnoticed. Unless you get tested, you can never be sure if you have an infection or not. Getting tested is easy, living with the health consequences of undetected gonorrhea is not.

How long does it take for symptoms of gonorrhea show up?

If you do experience gonorrhea symptoms, it'll be around 10 day mark after being exposed to the bacterial infection through vaginal, oral or anal sex.

Complications are not symptoms.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), for women, is not a symptom of gonorrhea but a complication. If you feel sick, have a fever, pelvic pain, or pain during sex, please see a healthcare provider for a physical exam. The same is true for men. If men experience the onset of serious symptoms, it's important to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

1% of gonorrhea cases lead to DGI, which can be deadly.

DGI (Disseminated Gonococcal Infection), also called gonococcal arthritis, is gonorrhea that spreads to other parts of the body like the blood, skin, heart or joints. While it only happens to 1 out of 100 men and women infected with gonorrhea, it is serious. The infection can develop 2 to 14 days after the gonorrhea infection begins. Symptoms can include chills, fever, sickness, arthritis (joint pain or joint swelling), painful wrist and heel tendons, skin rash, skin lesions (open sores or bumps filled with pus) or symptoms for meningitis (such as severe headaches, stiff and painful neck, vomiting, confusion and seizures). Again, it can be very serious.

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