Man experiencing gonorrhea symptoms and wondering how gonorrhea treatment in males works

How to treat gonorrhea in males

Written on March 12, 2023 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

About gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a type of bacterial infection that can be contracted/transmitted through sexual contact and can infect various parts of the body, including the urethra, rectum, throat, or cervix. It is most common among people who are between the ages of 15 and 24 [1].

This infection is commonly transmitted through vaginal, oral, or anal sex, and it can also be passed from a pregnant person to an infant during childbirth [1]. You may be wondering how to treat gonorrhea in males. Gonorrhea is easily treated and is cured by a course of antibiotics [1].

Gonorrhea in males

In males, “gonorrhea can cause a painful condition in the tubes attached to the testicles, which can, in rare cases, lead to infertility” [1]. Untreated gonorrhea can (but rarely does) spread to your blood or joints, which can be life-threatening. Untreated gonorrhea can also increase your chances of contracting or transmitting HIV [1].

Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, racial/ethnic minorities, indigenous populations, and sex workers tend to be disproportionately affected by gonorrhea [2].

According to the most recent data from 2020, there were 598.6 cases of gonorrhea per 100,000 males [3].

Symptoms in males

Common symptoms for males, according to the CDC include [1]:

  • Burning sensation while peeing
  • White, yellow, or green discharge from the penis
  • Pain or swelling in the testicles

Rectal symptoms, in the case of an anal infection, include [1]:

  • Discharge
  • Itching
  • Soreness
  • Bleeding
  • Pain during bowel movements

In people assigned male at birth, symptoms often develop within a week of exposure [2].

Treating gonorrhea in males

Apart from getting tested regularly if you are sexually active, you should seek medical attention if:

  • You exhibit any symptoms of gonorrhea or any STI/STD, including but not limited to an “unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods” [1]
  • Your sexual partner(s) have an STI or STD
  • Your sexual partner(s) have not recently been tested
  • You have not recently been tested

In order to be treated, your healthcare provider (HCP) will likely require testing to ensure that you are treated for the correct diagnosis: “Most of the time, a healthcare provider will use a urine sample to diagnose gonorrhea. However, if you have had oral and/or anal sex, your healthcare provider may use swabs to collect samples from your throat and/or rectum. In some cases, a healthcare provider may also use a swab to collect a sample from a man’s urethra (urine canal)” [1].

If you test positive for gonorrhea, your HCP will likely prescribe you a course of antibiotics. These antibiotics can be in the form of an injection or tablets that are taken orally [4]. Remember, “It is important that you take all of the medicine your healthcare provider gives you to cure your infection. Do not share medicine for gonorrhea with anyone. Although medication will stop the infection, it will not undo any permanent damage caused by the disease” [1].

It is recommended that you and your partner(s) wait a whole week after you finish your antibiotics before resuming sexual activity to prevent reinfection [1]. As a follow-up, “Those with gonorrhea should be retested about three months after treatment of an initial infection, even if their partners received successful treatment” [1].

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotics have been successful in treating gonorrhea for decades, but “the bacteria has developed resistance to nearly every drug used for treatment” [1].

The CDC warns, “Gonorrhea has progressively developed resistance to the antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it. Following the spread of gonococcal fluoroquinolone resistance, cephalosporin antibiotics have been the foundation of recommended treatment for gonorrhea. The emergence of…resistant gonorrhea would significantly complicate the ability of providers to treat gonorrhea successfully since we have few antibiotic options left that are simple, well-studied, well-tolerated, and highly effective” [5].

This is one reason why taking precautions and practicing safer sex methods is very important.

Where you can get treatment

You can go to your usual HCP, to a clinic, or to urgent care.

Another option is to utilize Everlywell’s at-home Chlamydia & Gonorrhea lab test to get a diagnosis. If your test results reveal the possibility of chlamydia or gonorrhea, we will link you with our network of independent physicians who can provide you with treatment at no additional cost to you.

You are just three simple steps away from gonorrhea treatment:

  1. Create your profile online, fill out your medical history, and check to see if your insurance is accepted
  2. Schedule your telehealth visit
  3. Receive a care plan to address your needs and symptoms, which may include testing, prescriptions, and lifestyle recommendations

Can gonorrhea go away on its own?

Gonorrhea: signs and symptoms

Symptoms of STDs in pregnant women


  1. STD Facts - Gonorrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published August 22, 2022. Accessed March 8, 2023.
  2. Kirkcaldy RD, Weston E, Segurado AC, Hughes G. Epidemiology of gonorrhoea: a global perspective. Sex Health. 2019;16(5):401-411. doi:10.1071/SH19061. URL.
  3. Sexually transmitted infections. Sexually Transmitted Infections - Healthy People 2030. URL. Accessed March 8, 2023.
  4. Treatment - Gonorrhoea. NHS choices. URL. Accessed March 8, 2023.
  5. Drug-resistant gonorrhea - STD information from CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published March 2, 2023. Accessed March 8, 2023.
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