Gonorrhea treatments

Updated on:
February 16, 2022

Are there currently treatments available for gonorrhea?

Today, there is a treatment and cure for gonorrhea that can ensure your body is free of infection. Usually, gonorrhea treatment involves dual antibiotic therapy, which includes an antibiotic injection combined with antibiotic pills.

What are the post-exposure treatment options for gonorrhea?

The recommended treatment for gonorrhea in Canada often includes a one-time injection of the antibiotic Ceftriaxone into the buttocks muscle along with one dose of the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax) taken orally.

People allergic to cephalosporin antibiotics (like Ceftriaxone) may be given oral gemifloxacin (Factive) or injectable gentamicin along with oral azithromycin.

With the emergence of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea strains, more intensive treatments may be necessary. Treatment for resistant gonorrhea strains usually involves a 7-day course of one or two oral antibiotics (usually azithromycin or doxycycline).

Getting a gonorrhea treatment

When should I begin post-exposure treatment for gonorrhea?

Since gonorrhea is highly contagious and can be transmitted to sexual partners, if you've had contact with someone who has gonorrhea or suspects having it, get tested and treated as quickly as you can. Most cases do not present with any symptoms, so getting tested by a healthcare provider to confirm the diagnosis is the only sure way to detect gonorrhea.

Where can I get treatment for gonorrhea?

You can access treatment for gonorrhea at sexual health/STI clinics or your healthcare provider’s clinic.

Gonorrhea treatment and antibiotic therapies are free for all individuals in Canada (even those without healthcare insurance).

Can I have sex during and/or after my treatment for gonorrhea?

After you are diagnosed with gonorrhea, it's important to avoid sexual contact until at least 7-days after treatment has been completed and/or a follow-up STI screening by your healthcare provider confirms the gonorrhea infection is no longer present in your body.

Equally, if you’re hooking up with somebody with a recent gonorrhea diagnosis, ensure you’re having open conversations about your STI testing and history. It is possible to become re-infected by gonorrhea after treatment.

With the rise of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, it's more important than ever to ensure the infection has been treated before engaging in sexual activities with a partner.

How can I be sure the treatment for gonorrhea worked?

If gonorrhea symptoms persist more than five days after treatment, contact your healthcare provider as you may need additional treatment or different antibiotics.

There is only one reliable way to know if the treatment was effective: getting tested again to confirm the gonorrhea infection has been successfully cured.

If gonorrhea remains after treatment is completed, your healthcare provider may recommend a different course of antibiotics, after which you may need to get tested again to confirm the infection has been treated.

Reviewed by:
Dr. Caley Shukalek

Caley is passionate about evidence-based, patient-centred care, including telemedicine that can provide high quality care from wherever a patient may choose.

He helped create Alberta's PrEP guidelines and works as a specialist in General Internal Medicine with additional training in sexual health, including HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

He holds an Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, an MD from the University of Calgary and an MSc from the University of Alberta.