Can Gonorrhea Cause Erectile Dysfunction or Infertility?

    Can Gonorrhea Cause Erectile Dysfunction or Infertility?

    Can gonorrhea cause erectile dysfunction? Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in the world. If left untreated, it may lead to serious complications.

    Gonorrhea may infect the following areas:

    • Urethra – Tube that conducts urine out of the system
    • Rectum – The chamber where stool passes
    • Pharynx – Walls of the mouth and throat
    • Conjunctiva – Inner layer of the eyelid

    It is common for gonorrhea to go undetected for a long period of time. 80% percent of women with gonorrheal infections do not show any signs and symptoms. Most of the time, gonorrheal infections in the rectum and pharynx do not manifest signs and symptoms especially in its early stages.

    This characteristic of gonorrhea makes it easier to be unknowingly transmitted from one person to another. This also makes it likely that the infection will go unnoticed and untreated for a long time.

    If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause serious and sometimes irreversible damage.

    Gonorrhea Complications for Men

    Epididymitis

    Epididymitis is the inflammation or swelling of the tube that carries and stores the sperm (epididymis). Gonorrhea can cause this inflammation, which often leads to:

    • Fever
    • Discharge from the penis
    • Blood in the semen
    • Pain in the pelvic region, lower abdomen, or testicles
    • Painful urination
    • A swollen scrotum

    Acute Bacterial Prostatitis

    Prostatitis is the inflammation or swelling of the prostate. This is the gland responsible for secreting fluid that nourishes the sperm and makes up the semen.

    When gonorrhea infects the prostate, the condition is commonly known as acute bacterial prostatitis. This condition can lead to signs and symptoms such as:

    • Pain while urinating
    • Cloudy or bloody Urine
    • Frequent urination
    • Constant urge to urinate
    • Difficulty urinating
    • Painful ejaculation
    • Pain in the testicles and penis, or in the lower back or abdomen

    Acute Bacterial Prostatitis is not only caused by gonorrhea but it can also be caused by other bacteria such as e. Coli and chlamydia.

    Can Gonorrhea Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

    Can gonorrhea cause erectile dysfunction? Erectile dysfunction is the inability to have and maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.

    Gonorrheal infection in men usually starts in the tube where urine passes (urethra). When untreated, gonorrhea can spread to the other nearby organs.

    The bacteria itself does not cause erectile dysfunction. But if gonorrhea has spread and caused inflammation or swelling in the male reproductive system, the pain and discomfort can lead to erectile dysfunction.

    Gonorrhea Complications for Women

    Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

    Gonorrhea infections in women are often mistaken for other urinary tract infections.

    Gonorrhea infection in the cervix (cervical gonorrhea) can progress into pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is the swelling of the female reproductive organs. These include the womb, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

    PID can be caused by many bacteria but it is commonly caused by gonorrhea and chlamydia.

    Symptoms of PID are:

    • Pain in the lower abdomen
    • Pain during urination or sex
    • Irregular Periods
    • Abnormal Vaginal Discharge (Foul Smell)
    • Fever

    Gonorrhea Complications for Women and Men

    Infertility

    Gonorrhea infects the reproductive system of both males and females. It rarely causes infertility in men, but gonorrhea is more likely to cause infertility in women.

    PID can cause swelling or scarring in the fallopian tubes which makes it difficult for the egg to reach the womb. In some cases, PID can cause ectopic pregnancy or pregnancy outside the womb.

    Disseminated Gonococcal Infections

    Disseminated Gonococcal Infection (DGI) is a rare complication that affects 0.5% – 3% of all individuals diagnosed with gonorrhea. This condition more often infects females.

    DGI is when the bacteria causing gonorrhea spreads to the bloodstream. This causes inflammation in other parts of the body such as the joints, the heart, and even the brain.

    It commonly manifests as:

    • Septic arthritis – Pain in the wrist, ankle and knee joints.
    • Septic Gonococcal Dermatitis – Skin lesions in the form of bumps containing fluid.
    • Tenosynovitis – Joint pain in the hands and wrist due to inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath (synovium) that surrounds a tendon.

    In rare cases, gonorrhea bacteria that has reached the bloodstream can also infect the heart (pericarditis) and the brain (meningitis).

    Key Takeaways

    Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease. Most of the time, gonorrhea does not show signs and symptoms. Late detection and treatment can cause damage especially to the reproductive organs of both males and females.
    Gonorrhea does not directly cause erectile dysfunction but the pain and discomfort may make maintaining an erection difficult. It can also cause infertility in both women and men but it is more common in women. Gonorrheal infections can worsen and enter the bloodstream, spreading infections to other parts of the body including the heart and brain.

    Learn more about gonorrhea here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD

    General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas


    Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Dec 09, 2022

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