If treated early, gonorrhoea is unlikely to lead to any complications or long-term problems. However, without treatment, it can spread to other parts of your body and cause serious problems.
The more times you have gonorrhoea, the more likely you are to have complications.
In women, gonorrhoea can spread to the reproductive organs and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This is estimated to occur in 10 to 20% cases of untreated gonorrhoea. PID can lead to long-term pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy and infertility.
During pregnancy, gonorrhoea can cause:
If the baby is not promptly treated with antibiotics, there's a risk of progressive and permanent vision damage.
In men, gonorrhoea can cause a painful infection in the testicles and prostate gland, which may lead to reduced fertility in a small number of cases.
In rare cases, when gonorrhoea has been left untreated, it can spread through the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections in other parts of the body (sepsis).
Page last reviewed: 29 June 2018
Next review due: 29 June 2021