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how long after gonorrhea treatment should i retest

By: Ana Mixon

June 1, 2023

How Long After Gonorrhea Treatment Should I Retest?

If you’ve contracted gonorrhea, it can be a relief to know that you’re not alone. More than 710,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2021. In the United States, gonorrhea cases jumped by 75.2% from 2009 to 2017, largely due to the infection’s resistance to antibiotics.

If your doctor has treated you for gonorrhea, they probably told you that you’ll need to get tested again soon. You may wonder, “How long after gonorrhea treatment should I retest?”

The answer to that depends on the type of gonorrhea your doctor treated you for. If you had throat gonorrhea, doctors recommend retesting 7 to 14 days after treatment. Everyone who had gonorrhea, regardless of the site of infection, should get tested again three months later to make sure the treatment worked.

Treatment for Gonorrhea

Although some strains of gonorrhea have become resistant to antibiotics, these drugs remain the best course of treatment for most people, according to the CDC guidelines for treatment of gonorrhea. Doctors usually begin treatment for gonorrhea with a single 500-milligram dose of intramuscular ceftriaxone, which they typically inject into the thigh or buttocks.

If you’re allergic to ceftriaxone or you have a persistent infection that won’t respond to the drug, your doctor can prescribe one of these:

  • Cefixime (Suprax)
  • A shot of Garamycin (Gentamicin) or a dose of oral gemifloxacin (Factive), plus one dose of azithromycin (Zithromax)

Once you’ve been treated, symptoms should go away in a few days, although pain in the testicles or pelvis can linger for up to two weeks. You may also temporarily develop heavy menstrual bleeding. Your cycle should go back to normal by your next period.

Treatment will cure the underlying gonococcal infection, but it won’t reverse any damage the infection has done to your body. Many people with gonorrhea don’t notice any symptoms, and by the time they do realize something wrong, the infection has already done serious harm.

Gonorrhea Symptoms

If you’re a man, the first symptoms you might notice include a burning feeling when urinating or discharge from your penis. Women may also have pain when urinating and discharge from the vagina, plus vaginal bleeding between periods.

Rectal gonorrhea can cause these symptoms in both men and women:

  • Anal itching
  • Soreness
  • Bleeding
  • Discharge
  • Painful bowel movements

If you don’t receive prompt treatment, gonorrhea can cause lasting damage, including:

  • Infertility in both genders
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Ectopic pregnancy 
  • Scar tissue in the fallopian tubes

Untreated gonorrhea can also spread to your joints or blood, which can be life-threatening.

Antibiotic-resistant Gonorrhea

Fortunately, gonorrhea infections usually go away completely if you treat them quickly. However, the bacteria that causes gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) is continually evolving. Some strains of gonorrhea have developed a disturbing resistance to many known treatment options, including penicillin, ciprofloxacin, and tetracycline.

If your doctor suspects that you have antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, they might try giving you a double dose of ceftriaxone. This approach has worked for people with antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea so far, but it won’t remain effective forever. Doctors will need to find new treatment plans to combat the tenacious growth of the gonorrhea bacteria. 

Testing for Gonorrhea

If you’re sexually active, you should get tested for gonorrhea even if you don’t have symptoms. Gonorrhea doesn’t cause symptoms in everyone who’s infected. 

Doctors recommend that you test for STDs, including gonorrhea, chlamydial infection, and syphilis, at least once per year. If you have multiple partners, schedule an STD test every three to six months. If you’d rather not visit your healthcare provider for a test, you can order an at-home test and test in the privacy of your home.

Your doctor might order one of several kinds of tests, including:

  • Gram test: With this test, a technician will look for signs of gonorrhea under a microscope. Doctors typically order this test for men who have urinary pain or discharge from their penis.
  • Gonorrhea nucleic acid amplification (GNAA) testing: This is the most common type of gonorrhea test. To perform it, a doctor will take a swab from an infected site or collect a urine sample from you. Next, a technician will test the sample for gonorrhea DNA. This test is highly accurate, so false positive STD test results are very uncommon.
  • Gonococcal culture: If your doctor suspects that you have antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, they might order a culture. Using this test, they’ll take a sample from your mouth, rectum, cervix, or urethra and try to grow the gonorrhea bacteria in a lab, which helps confirm antibiotic resistance.
  • Rapid STD testDoctors don’t usually order this type of test to check for gonorrhea, but they might do so if you need expedited treatment. Same-day STD testing can provide results in just one to two days.

If your doctor confirms that you have gonorrhea or another bacterial infection, they’ll start you on an antibiotic treatment plan right away. During treatment, avoid sexual contact so you don’t spread the infection to others. Only resume sexual activity when your doctor says it’s safe to do so.

Recurrent Infection

Is it possible for gonorrhea to come back? Yes, especially if you don’t take all the medication your doctor gave you. Not finishing treatment is one of the main reasons why gonorrhea has developed a resistance to antibiotics. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully, and don’t skip a single dose.

Gonorrhea can also come back if you don’t take your medication correctly, even if you take every single dose. If you take your medicine at the wrong time of day, it may not work. Calcium supplements and grapefruit juice can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics, so avoid both during your treatment.

If you have a weakened immune system, your body may struggle to eliminate the gonorrhea bacteria using the standard treatment protocol. Your doctor might give you more powerful antibiotics or prescribe you a longer course of treatment.

After finishing antibiotic treatment, it’s a good idea to get tested again to make sure your medication worked. Maybe people wonder, “How long after gonorrhea treatment should I retest?” People with throat gonorrhea should take another test 7 to 14 days after finishing treatment. You need to wait at least this long before testing for gonorrhea because you could continue to test positive for gonorrhea for up to seven days post-treatment.

Everyone else should retest for gonorrhea three months after finishing treatment. If you notice symptoms of gonorrhea, you can ask for a test sooner.

Preventing Gonorrhea Reinfection

If symptoms don’t go away after treatment, ask your doctor to test you again. You can also order a 10-panel STD test yourself if you prefer.

If you’re worried about gonorrhea or any other STD coming back after treatment, there are a few things you can do to lower your risk of reinfection.

  • Take your gonorrhea medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not skip a dose even if your symptoms seem to have gone away. Read the instructions that came with your medication and follow them to the letter.
  • Tell your past and current sexual partners that you’ve been treated for gonorrhea. It can be embarrassing to tell people that you have an STD, but if you don’t, you could infect your partner without knowing it. That means they could reinfect you with gonorrhea if you have sex with them before they get treated. If you don’t want to tell your partners yourself, your doctor’s office or sexual health clinic may send a notice of STD exposure on your behalf.
  • Limit your number of sex partners. Having sex with multiple people increases your risk of getting gonorrhea again.
  • Use a condom with every sex partner unless you’re monogamous and know for a fact that they’re STD-free. If you have any doubts, never have sex without a condom.
  • Use only water-based lubricants with latex condoms. Other types of lubricants can cause condoms to break, increasing your chances of reinfection. Condoms can also break if you use scissors, your teeth, a knife, or any other sharp object to open the wrapper. To open a condom wrapper, use your hands only.

If you struggle with drug or alcohol use, get help from a doctor or counselor who specializes in substance dependency. Abusing drugs or alcohol can lead to risky decision-making, such as having sex with people you don’t know very well.

Order Fast and Discreet Gonorrhea Testing

If you’ve been treated for gonorrhea, you’ll need to retest three months after finishing your treatment. One exception to this is if you had throat gonorrhea. In that case, you’ll need to retest seven to 14 days after treatment.

Now that we’ve answered the question, “How long after gonorrhea treatment should I retest?” you understand how important testing is, even if you don’t have symptoms. Rapid STD Testing offers a dual-panel gonorrhea and chlamydial infection test that requires just one urine sample. Testing takes about 15 minutes at a lab near you, and you’ll get your results in just one to two days.

Order your rapid STD test now, and use our online locator to find a lab near you.

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By: Ana Mixon
June 1, 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.