causes no long-term problems if it is treated early in the course of the
infection before any complications develop. Left untreated, gonorrhea can lead
to serious complications.
Complications in women
Women with untreated
gonorrhea may have the following complications of the
female reproductive system :
Complications in pregnant women
to untreated gonorrhea in pregnant women include:
- The possibility of a
- Preterm labor. The woman may
be given drugs to prevent premature birth, which could require a stay in the
- Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), which happens before labor contractions start. The
amniotic sac breaks open, causing
amniotic fluid to gush out, or less commonly, to
- Premature delivery. A premature infant has an
increased risk of health problems.
- Infection of the lining of the
If a woman has gonorrhea when she gives birth, her
newborn can be infected.
Women with untreated gonorrhea and
infected newborns are more likely to develop long-term complications of
Complications in newborns
Newborns of women with
untreated gonorrhea may have any of the following complications:
- Pinkeye (conjunctivitis). Most newborns who have gonorrhea also
- An infection in the bloodstream (sepsis)
- Inflammation of a joint (arthritis)
- Scalp infections at the site of
a fetal monitoring device
- Infection of the fluid and tissues that
surround the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
Complications in men
Men with untreated gonorrhea
- Epididymitis, an inflammation and infection of the
epididymis—the long, tightly coiled tube that lies behind each testicle and
- An inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis).
Complications of untreated gonorrhea in other areas of the body
Disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) occurs when the
gonorrhea infection spreads to sites other than the
genitals, such as the joints, skin, heart, or blood. Complications of
- Skin infection (cellulitis).
- An infection in the
- Inflammation of a joint (arthritis). It most often affects the knees and
- An infection and inflammation of the heart valves and the
chambers of the heart (endocarditis).
- An infection
of the fluid and tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).
Because many women do not have early symptoms of
gonorrhea that cause them to seek treatment, they are more likely than men to
have more serious complications from gonorrhea spreading to other parts of the
Having a gonorrhea infection once does not protect you
from getting another infection in the future. A new exposure to gonorrhea will
cause reinfection, even if you were previously treated and