Let's Talk About Safe Sex

what antibiotic is used for gonorrhea

By: Ana Mixon

September 2, 2023

What Antibiotic Is Used for Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Unfortunately, that means it comes with plenty of misconceptions and myths. When you suspect you have gonorrhea, your first instinct may be to hope it goes away on its own to avoid embarrassment.

If you or your partner contracted gonorrhea, it isn’t something to feel embarrassed or ashamed of. However, it is something that needs treatment. The good news is that gonorrhea is a curable STI. With the right treatment plan, you’ll be just fine.

What antibiotic is used for gonorrhea? There are a few different options. The treatment you need will depend on your symptoms, the severity of your case, the location of the infection, and your allergies and drug resistance.

Gonorrhea is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium. If you are exhibiting symptoms, test as soon as you can. You can even use a rapid STD test for quicker results.

Diagnosing Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is an STI caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium. It is transmitted through anal, vaginal, and oral sex. Typically, gonorrhea infects your:

  • Rectum
  • Throat
  • Genitals 

In 2021, the CDC identified gonorrhea as the most common STI in the United States. If you’re sexually active, there is always a chance of contracting gonorrhea.

If you’re reading this, you are likely exhibiting STI symptoms already. Gonorrhea symptoms will vary depending on the location of the infection and your genitals. 

People with penises may experience: 

  • Painful urination, usually a burning sensation
  • Unusual discharge from the penis, usually yellow, green, or white

People with vaginas may experience: 

  • Itching, redness, or burning
  • Unusual yellow discharge
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Prolonged menstrual cycles
  • Painful urination

People with rectal gonorrhea may experience: 

  • Itching or burning
  • Anal bleeding
  • Soreness or irritation
  • Painful bowel movements

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should get tested. Further, if your partner has notified you that they tested positive for gonorrhea, you should test regardless of your symptoms. There is always the possibility of dormant gonorrhea

For vaginal testing, you can visit a clinic or use a home test. This requires you to perform a vaginal swab, which you send to a lab for testing. You can then access your results online or by notification.

Other tests require a trip to your doctor. When you arrive, they’ll collect a urine sample, urethral swab, or endocervical swab. A lab uses nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) to determine your results.

When testing for gonorrhea, your doctor may also test for other STIs. Many STIs share similar symptoms or can coexist. It’s always better to test more frequently and thoroughly than you think you need to keep you and your sexual partners safe and healthy. 

If the lab results come back negative, there’s no need for further action. If you’re diagnosed with gonorrhea, the first thing to do is contact your recent sexual partner(s). 

Next, talk to your doctor about a treatment plan. 

Treating Gonorrhea 

While some people can test for gonorrhea at home, you can never treat it on your own. As soon as you’re diagnosed with gonorrhea, consult a professional to discuss the next steps. 

Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to cure your gonorrhea. But what antibiotic is used for gonorrhea? There are several options.

Ceftriaxone (Rocephin) is a CDC-recommended antibiotic for which you’ll need one 500mg dose. It’s often part of a dual-drug approach that pairs it with azithromycin. It has high bactericidal levels, making it easy to prevent further bacterial cell wall growth. Possible side effects include nausea, diarrhea, and swelling at the injection site.  

Cefixime is an alternative to ceftriaxone and replaces it in the dual therapy approach described above with a 400mg dose. This is an oral approach, as opposed to a ceftriaxone injection. It may result in diarrhea. 

Azithromycin (Zithromax) is another oral antibiotic for gonorrhea. You can take it in a single-dose regimen with ceftriaxone, which helps inhibit bacterial growth. This drug also works against chlamydia. Side effects may include headaches, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Doxycycline is an oral tablet approach. This treatment requires you to take a 100mg dose twice daily for seven days. You can also take it with ceftriaxone. You may experience vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea during treatment. 

While these are the main treatment methods, other antibiotics like amoxicillin can also cure gonorrhea.

Your doctor assesses the location of your infection, its severity, and your medical records to determine your treatment plan. You may consider alternative regimens if taking other medications that cause unsafe drug interactions or contraindications. 

Regardless, refrain from sexual activity during your treatment and seven days after completing it. Otherwise, you risk reinfection.

You’ll need a test of cure a week after treatment. This ensures the antibiotics work. Three months afterward, test again to ensure you aren’t reinfected. Testing is vital, as your doctor will need to prescribe more medication to combat antibiotic resistance if you have drug-resistant gonorrhea. 

Leaving Gonorrhea Untreated

Uncomplicated gonorrhea is curable, but you will have long-term health impacts without treatment.

People with vaginas can contract pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which causes severe pelvic and abdominal pain. It can also lead to fertility issues, including ectopic pregnancies and infertility. 

People with penises are in danger of untreated gonorrhea causing epididymitis, which can also lead to infertility. 

Anyone with untreated gonorrhea can develop arthritis, tenosynovitis, and dermatitis when the infection spreads to your joints and blood. Retesting after your gonorrhea treatment is the best way to avoid treatment failure and prevent these long-term health effects.

Because gonorrhea and trichomoniasis have similar symptoms, the STIs are often confused. Treating trichomoniasis does not eliminate the possibility of dormant gonorrhea. When in doubt, always test. 

Prevention Against Gonorrhea

Abstinence is the only way to 100% prevent gonorrhea, and it cannot develop by touching toilet seats or other points of contact. The exception is if a pregnant woman with gonorrhea goes untreated, her baby may require antibiotics or suffer birth defects. 

When you finish gonorrhea treatment, you probably want to do everything to prevent reinfection. The good news is that although this STI is extremely common, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Some are more at risk than others. If you have multiple sex partners, are under 25, or have recently had another STD, you have a higher chance of contracting gonorrhea. 

Prevention measures include: 

  • Protection
  • Limiting sexual partners
  • Communication
  • Frequent testing 

Using latex condoms during vaginal, oral, or anal sex helps prevent the spread of gonorrhea. You can also use a dental dam during oral sex for the same effect. Always use a form of protection to practice safe sex. 

Having a monogamous partner or limiting sexual partners also decreases your odds of contracting gonorrhea. If this isn’t a viable option for you, communication is essential. Talking with every partner about their sexual history, whether they test often, and any possible risks is a vital prevention measure. 

Finally, test frequently. You can use a 10-panel STD test to test for multiple STDs at once. Partner treatment is important, too. If you are diagnosed with an STD, always notify all partners. If a recent partner notifies you they tested positive, order a test as soon as possible.

The CDC recommends people under 25 who were assigned female at birth should order tests yearly. The more sexually active you are and the more partners you have, the more frequently you should test. 

Getting a handle on your sexual health is easier than ever with same-day STD testing and at-home tests like those offered by Rapid STD Testing. These are quick, easy tests that can give you peace of mind or allow you to take necessary action.

These methods are effective for helping those recovering from gonorrhea avoid reinfection and those simply looking to practice safe sex. 

Don’t Test Your Limits; Test for Gonorrhea

If you’re exhibiting signs of gonorrhea or had a partner recently diagnosed, don’t wait to test. The sooner you get tested, the sooner you can take any necessary action. Remember that gonorrhea doesn’t always come with symptoms, so regular testing is necessary. 

If you’re diagnosed, plenty of treatments are available to cure gonorrhea. What antibiotic is used for gonorrhea? It depends on your doctor’s recommendation. Your doctor will prescribe the necessary antibiotics, and you can move on feeling healthier and happier. The only thing standing in the way of your sexual health is you. 

Call or order an at-home STD test today, or visit a clinic near you if you have more questions. 


Get Tested for STDs and HIV Privately and Conveniently

No embarrassing exams, long waiting lines, or multiple visits. Just a quick lab visit for fast results.



By: Ana Mixon
September 2, 2023

Ana Mixon is an accomplished and knowledgeable medical writer who excels at conveying intricate medical information in a concise and understandable way. With a strong foundation in internal medicine, Ana possesses an in-depth comprehension of cutting-edge research and advancements in the healthcare sector. Her passion lies in making complex medical concepts accessible to a wide range of readers.

With years of experience under her belt, Ana has honed her skills in medical writing to perfection. She consistently produces high-quality content that is both informative and engaging, ensuring that readers can grasp even the most intricate details with ease. Her dedication to the craft is evident in her unwavering commitment to staying abreast of the latest developments in medical writing. Ana actively participates in conferences and workshops, constantly seeking opportunities to enhance her skill set and remain at the forefront of her field.