STDs Expert Forum
Does gonorrhea go away on its own?
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Does gonorrhea go away on its own?

I have been reading some of your posts on gonorrhea, and would appreciate a little clarification.

Does gonorrhea go away on its own?

I ask because I have seen posts on this website that suggest it will clear up.  (I'm not sure if that means that the "symptoms" will clear up, but that a person will continue to have gonorrhea until it is actually treated.)

Assuming gonorrhea does not clear up on its own, and a person will continue to have it until treated, is treatment for someone who has had gonorrhea for several years without realizing it different than for someone who only recently contracted it?

My concern is that I may have unsymptomatic gonorrhea and unknowingly given it to my wife.  (She has several symptoms that other women on this site have described, including infertility issues.)

Also, if someone has had unsymptomatic gonorrhea for a long time, will it still show up in testing?

Of course testing will answer the question, but I want to test myself first before unnecessarily creating "issues" in the marriage.

Thank you.
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Welcome to the forum.  Responding first to the question you posed in the title, before reading anything else:  Yes, gonorrhea goes away on its own.  In the pre-antibiotic era, it was generally believed that urethral gonorrhea in men cleared up without treatment in an average of 6 weeks or so.  Genital infection in women took longer, but was believed to usually resolve in 3-6 months.  More prolonged infection probably occurred, but not very often.

Now I have read the question itself.  It is exceedingly unlikely that anyone ever carries gonorrhea for a year or more, and probably it never happens in men.  Gonorrhea without symptoms (of any duration) is rare in men.  As for your wife's "fertility problems", gonorrhea is an exceedingly uncommon cause of female infertility.

Chlamydia is a more likely STD than gonorrhea in this scenario, but that also is very unlikely.  However, it lasts longer than gonorrhea and can be carried by women for at least a couple of years.

The tests for both gonorrhea and chlamydia are reliable in the absence of symptoms.  Since you are concerned, a urine test for both.  You can expect negative results.

I hope this helps.  Best wishes--  HHH, MD
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