Gonorrhea is a type of STD or sexually transmitted disease, which is caused due to infection by the Neisseria gonorrhea bacterium. Gonorrhea has a tendency to infect moist and warm regions of the body such as the urethra, throat, eyes, vagina, anus and the organs of the female reproductive tract including the uterus, cervix and the fallopian tubes. Gonorrhea is spread from one person to another via unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sex. Individuals who don’t use a condom while having sexual intercourse or those who have multiple sexual partners are at the highest risk of getting the infection.

Can Gonorrhea Lay Dormant in the Body?

Yes, gonorrhea can lay dormant. A person can be infected with the bacterium but never develops symptoms that are noticeable. It is because most of the sexually transmitted infections, whether viral or bacterial, do not cause symptoms and can lie dormant for a few years before manifesting symptoms. Gonorrhea can lay dormant for up to a year. The majority of the females infected with gonorrhea are asymptomatic and up to 50% of the males infected with the bacterium have either very minor symptoms or no symptoms at all. 

Question: How long could you have gonorrhea and not know about it? I believe my last partner ago give it to me around 9 months.

Answer: It is difficult to know the exact time from when the person had gonorrhea, particularly because it is so common to be asymptomatic. If you have a doubt, it is advised to visit a physician and get yourself tested for STIs. Many times, symptoms do don’t develop for a month and you may not notice it until it spreads to other parts of body.

How to Know Whether You Have Gonorrhea

After answering the question can gonorrhea lay dormant, let’s discuss how to know whether you have gonorrhea or not.

Symptoms of gonorrhea usually develop within 2 to 15 days after exposure. Hence, if you had an unprotected sexual intercourse and develops the following symptoms then you should seek medical help:

When gonorrhea affects the genital tract

Symptoms and signs of gonorrhea infection in males include:

  • Pain while urination

  • Swelling or pain in one testicle

  • Discharge similar to pus from the penis

Symptoms and signs of gonorrhea infection in females include:

  • Increased discharge from vagina

  • Pain while urination

  • Bleeding from vagina between period, such as bleeding after sexual intercourse

  • Pain while having sexual intercourse

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain

When gonorrhea affects other sites of the body

These body parts may also be affected by gonorrhea:

  • Rectum: Symptoms and signs include discharge similar to pus from the anus, presence of bright red blood spots on the toilet tissue, anal itching and straining while passing stool.

  • Eyes: Gonorrhea affecting your eyes may result in pain in the eye, discharge similar to pus from either one or both of the eyes and increased sensitivity to light.

  • Throat: Symptoms include a sore throat and swelling of lymph nodes present in the neck.

  • Joints: If the bacterium infects one or more of your joints, then the affected joints are red, warm, extremely painful particularly when moving the joint and swollen.

Visit your physician if you notice any of the above mentioned signs or symptoms of the infection. You should also see your physician if gonorrhea has been diagnosed in your partner. You may not develop symptoms or signs that prompt you to visit your physician once again confirming the answer of the question can gonorrhea lay dormant, but without getting proper treatment you may reinfect your partner even if they have received treatment for gonorrhea.

Your physician will do analysis of a sample of cells that is collected by:

  • Urine test: If the bacterium is present in your urethra it can be identified by this test.

  • Swab of the area affected by the bacteria: A swab of your urethra, throat, rectum or vagina may be collected and then tested for presence of bacteria in a lab.

Home test kits are also available in the market for females to check gonorrhea. These kits include vaginal swabs that can be used for self-testing, which are then sent to a specific lab for testing. You may be notified of your results by text message or email.


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