Gonorrhea in children

Gonorrhea (gon·​or·​rhea) in children is a commonly occurring sexually transmitted infectione (STI) that can lead to further complications including infertility.

What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a commonly occurring sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can lead to further complications. Not everyone will develop symptoms, which can make diagnosing it difficult, but gonorrhea can still be passed with or without obvious warning signs.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

If left untreated, females can develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can damage the reproductive system and cause infertility. PID affects approximately 40 percent of the women with gonorrhea.

What are the signs and symptoms of gonorrhea in children?

Most people with gonorrhea will not experience symptoms. If symptoms are present, they will appear two to 30 days after the infectious encounter.

  • Bleeding from the genitals or rectum
  • Burning during urination
  • Discharge from the throat, penis, rectum or vagina
  • Irregular menstruation (periods)
  • Pain in lower abdomen (belly) that typically only affects women
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Rectal pain
  • Sepsis (a possibly deadly complication from the infection), especially during pregnancy

How is gonorrhea in children diagnosed?

If there is concern for possible gonorrhea, the doctor will first take a medical history and conduct a physical exam. A pelvic exam may not be required as testing for gonorrhea can be done through the urine. However, if there are other complaints such as pain and vaginal discharge, a pelvic exam may be encouraged.

What are the causes of gonorrhea in children?

Gonorrhea is an infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae that affects the eyes, mouth, throat, rectum and vagina.

Risk factors

There are several risk factors that can increase the chance of gonorrhea:

  • Having a cut – The disease enters the blood stream through an opening in the skin (like a cut).
  • Having a mother with chlamydia – It is possible for a mother to infect her child during vaginal childbirth.
  • Being sexually active – Those that are sexually active have a greater risk of contracting gonorrhea. Further, the more sexual partners you have, the more likely you are to get gonorrhea. Being with a partner that has had multiple partners also increases your risk.
  • Weakened immune system – Immune systems can be weakened by HIV/AIDS, immune-suppressing medications (organ transplants) or other reasons.

How is gonorrhea in children treated?


Treatment for gonorrhea includes antibiotics that will treat the gonorrhea infection. This will include a shot and a pill which will be given in clinic.

If you are treated, you should make sure your partner gets tested and treated too. Regardless of where you may gave gotten the infection, you may have passed it along your current partner.


Using condoms can help prevent the spread of gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea doctors and providers