Hesperian Health Guides

Gonorrhea and Chlamydia

In this chapter:

Anyone can have gonorrhea or chlamydia without showing signs or feeling symptoms. When there are no signs, tests are needed to know if there is an infection. If gonorrhea or chlamydia is not treated, either can lead to severe infection or infertility.

Always test for gonorrhea and chlamydia during pregnancy because these infections can pass to the baby during childbirth. If the test shows gonorrhea or chlamydia or both, both the person who is pregnant and her partner should be treated. If either partner has signs of infection, but testing is not available, they should be treated anyway. Gonorrhea and chlamydia have similar signs.

Signs in the vagina
  • yellow or green discharge from the vagina or anus
  • pain in the lower belly
  • fever
  • pain during sex
  • pain or burning while urinating

If a woman has gonorrhea or chlamydia and also has fever and pain in the lower belly, she may have pelvic inflammatory disease.

Signs in the testicles or penis
a man itching his crotch
  • drip of pus from the penis or anus
  • pain or burning while urinating
  • sometimes there is also painful swelling of the testicles

In a man, the first signs begin 2 to 5 days (or up to 3 weeks or more) after sexual contact with an infected person. In a woman, signs may not show up for weeks or months. But a person who does not have any signs can still pass the disease to someone else, starting a few days after infection.


Treatment works best when started early. Be sure to take all the medicine, even if you begin to feel better. Your partner or partners will need treatment with the same medicine.

It is best to treat for both gonorrhea and chlamydia unless tests confirm that the person only has one. Using a combination of 2 medicines for gonorrhea will also treat chlamydia. If a test shows that there is chlamydia but no gonorrhea, only one medicine is needed. The chart Medicine Combinations to Treat Gonorrhea and Chlamydia shows different combinations and treatment depending on available medicines.

Because gonorrhea is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, it is best to seek local advice about which medicines are effective, available, and affordable in your area. If the drip and pain have not gone away in 2 or 3 days after starting treatment, it could mean the gonorrhea is resistant to the medicine and a different medicine is needed.

This page was updated:10 Jan 2023