What You and Your Partner Should Know About Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
On this page:
Your Test Results
Notify Your Partner(s)
Steps to Take
Your Test Results
Your test results show you have gonorrhea or chlamydia – or both. These are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can cause permanent damage to you and your sex partners if not treated early.
People get STDs by having sex with someone who has an STD. Once you are infected, you can infect someone else.
Both gonorrhea and chlamydia often have no symptoms. Sometimes only one partner will have symptoms, even though both have the disease. That’s why notifying your sexual partners about the results of your test is important.
Notify Your Partner(s)
Since these diseases can be given to other people when you have sex with them, you should notify everyone you have had sex with during the 60 days before your symptoms appeared or you were diagnosed. One of these people passed the disease on to you without knowing they had the disease. And, you could have passed the disease to others without knowing it. Notify your partner(s) immediately so that they can see a doctor for testing and treatment, if necessary.
Telling a partner may not be easy, but it is important that you do so. If left untreated, gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause serious permanent damage, including infertility (unable to get pregnant and have children). Informing your partners gives them the opportunity to get immediate testing, and if necessary, receive treatment.
- Partner Information: Important Information about Your Health (PDF)
A brochure with more information to give to your sex partner(s) after you've been diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea.
- Just Diagnosed? Next Steps After Testing Positive for Gonorrhea or Chlamydia (CDC)
If you’ve just found out that you have gonorrhea or chlamydia, you may be trying to figure out what to do next.
Women may have pain in the pelvic area. Both diseases can infect a woman’s fallopian tubes and ovaries. This can cause lower abdominal pain during intercourse, unusual menstrual pain, irregular periods, loss of weight and a general feeling of illness. If left untreated, both diseases may cause infertility, premature birth or tubal pregnancies (where the baby grows in another part of the body outside of the womb).
Men may have pain or burning when they urinate. There may be a whitish-yellow or cloudy discharge – or “drip” from the penis. If left untreated, both diseases can cause urinary problems, sterility or infections in the joints.
Men and women can become infected with either disease in the mouth and rectum if those body parts are involved during sex. There often are no symptoms when these parts of the body are infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia.
Babies can be infected with either disease during birth. Infected babies can have serious eye infections. Chlamydia can cause a serious pneumonia in newborn babies.
Chlamydia is the most widespread bacterial sexually transmitted disease today. It is especially dangerous for women because it often leads to pelvic inflammatory disease, a major cause of infertility. Untreated chlamydia can cause infertility by blocking the fallopian tubes with scar tissue. The danger of tubal pregnancies is also greater. Chlamydia, if untreated, can also cause infertility problems in men.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection which can affect the sexual organs, throat, rectum and other parts of the body including the eyes and joints. Arthritis and swelling of the joints sometimes results. In 40% of men and nearly 80% of women who are infected with gonorrhea, there are no obvious symptoms.
Steps to Take
1. Take all of the medicine your doctor prescribes. Don’t stop taking the medicine just because your symptoms disappear or because you feel better. Your doctor may treat you for chlamydia if you tested positive for gonorrhea because the two diseases often infect you at the same time. Be sure to ask about any possible side effects from your medication.
2. Notify all of the people with whom you have had sex during the 60 days before your symptoms appeared. If you didn’t have symptoms, notify all of your sex partners during the 60 days before you were diagnosed. Partners should be treated as soon as possible to prevent them from developing problems or giving the disease back to you or to other people.
3. Don’t have sex until your doctor tells you it’s OK again. This includes vaginal, oral and anal sex, because the disease can infect not only the sexual organs but the throat and rectum as well.
4. See your doctor immediately if you have any symptoms in the future.
5. Once your health care provider says it’s OK to have sex again, help protect yourself from STDs by:
- Using condoms for oral, anal or vaginal sex. Condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhea and chlamydia. Use a condom or latex barrier for oral sex on a vagina or anus.
- Using a receptive condom, a polyurethane pouch that is inserted into the vagina or anus. This can also offer protection in case a male worn condom is not available.
- Calling the Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline for more information on STDs, 1-800-78 FACTS voice/TTY.
6. If you need help notifying your sexual partners, the Partner Services Program can provide confidential help, or notify your partner(s) anonymously on your behalf. For more information, see STD/HIV Partner Services Program.