Treating gonorrhoea 

Gonorrhoea is usually treated with a short course of antibiotics.

Treatment is recommended if:

  • tests have shown you have gonorrhoea (see diagnosing gonorrhoea for more information)
  • there's a high chance you have gonorrhoea, even though your test results haven't come back yet
  • your partner is found to have gonorrhoea

In most cases, treatment involves having a single antibiotic injection (usually in the buttocks or thigh) followed by one antibiotic tablet. It's sometimes possible to have another antibiotic tablet instead of an injection, if you prefer.

If you have any symptoms of gonorrhoea, these will usually improve within a few days, although it may take up to two weeks for any pain in your pelvis or testicles to go away completely. Bleeding between periods or heavy periods should improve by the time of your next period.

Attending a follow-up appointment a week or two after treatment is usually recommended, so another test can be carried out to see if you're clear of infection.

You should avoid having sex until you (and your partner) have been treated and given the all-clear, to prevent re-infection or passing the infection on to anyone else.

If your symptoms don't improve after treatment or you think you've been infected again, see your doctor or nurse. Treatment may need to be repeated, or you may need further tests to check for other problems.

Sexual partners

Gonorrhoea is easily passed on through intimate sexual contact. If you're diagnosed with it, anyone you've recently had sex with may have it too. It's 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 they go for a check-up. The slip won't have your name on it, so your confidentiality is protected.

Treating babies with gonorrhoea

Babies with signs of a gonorrhoea infection at birth or who have an increased risk of infection because the mother has gonorrhoea will usually be given antibiotics immediately after they're born.

This doesn't harm the baby and helps prevent blindness and other complications of gonorrhoea.

Page last reviewed: 28/07/2015

Next review due: 01/07/2018