A large number of men and women who have gonorrhea are asymptomatic, which means that no visible symptoms are present.1 However, when symptoms do appear, they usually manifest in the reproductive organs. In some instances, they appear in the rectum, eyes, throat or joints.2
Symptoms of Gonorrhea in Men
Signs and symptoms of genital gonorrhea in men include:
• Painful urination
• Swelling (inflammation) of the foreskin
• Pain or swelling in one or both testicles
• An unusual discharge that may be white, yellow or green
Symptoms of Gonorrhea in Women
The symptoms of gonorrhea in women are similar to men’s, such as:
• A thin or watery vaginal discharge that may be green or yellow
• Painful or burning feeling during urination
• Some bleeding in between periods, and the bleeding is heavier during actual periods. It may occur after sexual intercourse as well
• Pain in the pelvis and abdomen
Manifestations of Gonorrhea in Other Organs
• Rectum: Indicators of rectal gonorrhea include itching in the anus and pus-like discharge. You may also notice bleeding when you use toilet paper, and having to strain yourself when excreting.
• Eyes: Should the bacteria come into contact with your eyes, you may develop pink eye. Classic indicators of this condition include eye pain, redness, swelling and sensitivity to light. A yellow, pus-like discharge may be present as well in the corner.
• Throat: Typical oral gonorrhea symptoms include sore throat and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. You may also find it difficult to swallow food.3
• Joints: Gonorrhea may affect one or more joints in your body, causing septic arthritis. The affected joints can become red, swollen and warm. When you try to move or put weight on the joints, it can be very painful.
Watch Out for These Symptoms as Well
If gonorrhea is left untreated, it can cause complications that may seriously affect your health and even your ability to have children. Men with gonorrhea are known to develop:
• Epididymitis: An inflammation of the epididymis, a maze of tubes behind the testicles where sperm cells travel. Symptoms include a swollen scrotum, pain in one testicle, painful urination and blood in the semen. Epididymitis is treatable, but it can lead to infertility if not treated right away.4
• Prostatitis: This condition is the inflammation of your prostate gland, which is responsible for protecting and nourishing your sperm. If gonococcal bacteria reach your prostate, symptoms such as blood in the urine, painful urination, weak urine stream and fever may arise.5
Women with gonorrhea are known to develop the following conditions:
• Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): This condition causes inflammation in your fallopian tubes and womb. Common symptoms of PID include fever, pain in the pelvic area, fatigue, chills, bleeding after intercourse and period cramps that hurt more than usual.6
• Ectopic pregnancy: In a healthy female, the fertilized egg grows inside the womb, but when the egg develops within the fallopian tubes only, it is called an ectopic pregnancy and can become life-threatening. Symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding, low back pain and mild pelvic cramps.
Eventually, you may feel a sharp pain in the abdominal area.7 If you have gonorrhea and have become pregnant, you should undergo testing regularly to monitor the fertilized egg’s location.8
Visit Your Doctor Regularly to Check for Sexually Transmitted Diseases
If you’re sexually active, it’s important to have yourself tested regularly for any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This is important because aside from gonorrhea, other STDs like chlamydia, are asymptomatic as well.9