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Symptoms and Diagnosis


Dr. Mayzik
Many men and most women with gonorrhea have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they typically appear within two weeks of sexual contact with an infected person. Dr. Alvarado, can you tell us about these symptoms?

Dr. Alvarado
Absolutely, Dr. Mayzik. Men are more often symptomatic than women. In men, a gonorrhea infection may cause symptoms of urethritis, or inflammation of the urethra. These symptoms may include:

  • Yellow, white, or green discharge from the penis
  • Pain or burning during urination, and
  • Frequent urination

If the infection spreads to the epididymis, symptoms can include pain or swelling in one or both testicles.

Most women with gonorrhea have no symptoms at all, and those that do often have symptoms that are so mild they are mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. These symptoms can include:

  • Abnormal discharge from the vagina
  • Pain or burning during urination, and
  • Bleeding between periods

If the infection spreads further into the reproductive system, symptoms may include lower abdominal or pelvic pain, nausea, and fever.

Both men and women can experience symptoms of a rectal infection, which can include:

  • Discharge
  • Anal itching
  • Soreness
  • Bleeding, and
  • Painful bowel movements

Gonorrhea infections of the mouth and throat may cause soreness and redness. If gonorrhea infects the eye, it can cause redness, itching, and discharge from the eye.

There are several different lab tests that can diagnose gonorrhea. The most sensitive and accurate tests are called nucleic acid amplification tests, or NAATs. NAATs are able to test specimens from urine samples and swabs from the vagina, throat, and rectum.