Gonorrhea Signs and Symptoms in Men

The Signs and Symptoms of This STI

Couple on Beach
Couple on Beach. David McNew / Staff / Getty Images

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that has different symptoms depending on which part of the body has been infected. In fact, it can take up to four weeks from the time you're infected to even begin showing symptoms. And about 10 percent of men who have gonorrhea show no symptoms at all. For the other 90 percent of men with gonorrhea, the symptoms are very noticeable.

What are the Symptoms of Gonorrhea in Men?

If you have penetrative vaginal or anal sex with a woman or man who has gonorrhea, you may end up with an infection of your own.

Early symptoms include:

  • discomfort in the penis
  • a thick white, yellow, or green discharge from the tip of the penis
  • pain or a burning sensation when urinating

If you experience any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away, and don't have sex until the cause of these symptoms has been diagnosed and treated. Other STIs may show similar symptoms. The only way to be sure of the cause and to get the appropriate treatment is to see a doctor. If you are diagnosed with an STI, make sure to inform your recent sexual partners, including the person you think you got the infection from and protect yourself and your partners while you are being treated.

If gonorrhea is left untreated, the infection can spread to the glands near the urethra, the prostate, the seminal vesicles, your testicles, and your bladder. This may lead to:

  • rectal or urethral abscesses
  • painfully swollen testicles
  • difficulty urinating

Which Other Parts of the Body Can Be Infected with Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea can be passed along through anal or oral sex.

An infection of the rectum can come with:

  • soreness and itching in the anal area
  • anal discharge
  • severe anal or rectal pain, especially when defecating

Rectal gonorrhea is very infectious and can cause many problems if left untreated. If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away.

Likewise, if you perform oral sex on a man who has gonorrhea, you may end up with an infection.

The primary symptom of such an infection is a sore, inflamed throat, which is often not diagnosed as gonorrhea. If you have reason to think that a sore throat is caused by gonorrhea, inform your doctor, who can do a test that will confirm the source of the infection.

If you have an oral gonorrhea infection, it can be passed along to other people through kissing or oral sex.

What Do I Need to Know about the Symptoms of Gonorrhea in Women?

Incubation (the amount of time it takes for an infection to show symptoms) is longer in women than in men, and 70 to 90 percent of women with gonorrhea have no symptoms. If you notice any of the following in a sexual partner, it may be worth it to ask when they were last tested for an STI: 

  • a strong-smelling vaginal discharge that may be thin and watery, yellow, or green
  • irritation in the anal area or discharge from the anus
  • swelling of the glands around the vaginal entrance

If you pass along the infection to a sexual partner, it can eventually cause sterility.

If they are pregnant, it can cause an ectopic pregnancy. Gonorrhea can also result in premature birth, umbilical cord inflammation, and blindness of the baby. Since gonorrhea in women often has no symptoms, it's very important to inform your sexual partners if you are diagnosed with gonorrhea so they can get tested and treated.

Learn more about tests and treatment for gonorrhea.

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