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Dormant Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea Without Signs and Symptoms

Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD · Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Sep 27, 2023

Dormant Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea Without Signs and Symptoms

Dormant gonorrhea occurs when one has gonorrhea but does not show symptoms. Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Among its symptoms are a burning sensation when urinating, and abnormal discharge.

In some cases, gonorrhea can be asymptomatic or does not show signs and symptoms. Experts consider dormant gonorrhea or asymptomatic gonorrhea to be more infectious and more dangerous because of the complications that can occur due to late treatment.

Kinds of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea infects the mucous membranes in the body. It is commonly found in the reproductive system which includes the vagina in women and the urethra in both men and women. It may also infect the mouth and throat, as oral or pharyngeal gonorrhea, and the rectum, or rectal gonorrhea.

Oral and rectal gonorrhea may manifest as dormant gonorrhea. People infected with dormant gonorrhea do not show signs and symptoms, especially during its early stages.

Oral gonorrhea may manifest as a sore throat, but most of the time, it does not show any signs or symptoms.

Rectal gonorrhea can manifest symptoms such as anal itching and soreness, but it commonly does not show any other signs and symptoms.

Dormant Gonorrhea 

Dormant gonorrhea can occur because the infection is in its early stages. It can take as long as 30 days for symptoms to show up. Even in its early stages, gonorrhea is still transmittable.

It is more common for women to have dormant gonorrhea. Studies have shown that 80% of women who have gonorrhea do not show any signs and symptoms.

In women, gonorrhea can easily be mistaken for other infections such as urinary tract infection (UTI) or a yeast infection.

Dormant gonorrhea is also common in men who have anal sex. According to a study done among men having sex with men, 58% of oral and rectal gonorrhea infections did not show any symptoms.

What Causes Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea transmission occurs when an infected area or bodily fluid comes in direct contact with the vagina, penis, mouth, rectum and even the eyes of another person.

Gonorrhea can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex as well as from mother to child during childbirth.

Is Dormant Gonorrhea Transmittable?

Even if gonorrhea did not manifest any type of symptoms, you can be a carrier and transmit the infection through direct contact.

Penetrative and oral sex is the most common mode of transmission for gonnorhea but it can also be transmitted through kissing, especially in the case of oral gonorrhea.

Because infected people do not manifest signs and symptoms, the chances of transmitting this disease to another person are very high.

Risk Factors

People prone to gonorrhea, especially dormant gonorrhea, are those who are sexually active and have a previous history of gonorrhea. Sexual partners who currently have gonorrhea, or have a history of having gonorrhea are also prone to spreading the infection.

People who practice unprotected anal sex and oral sex are also at risk of acquiring gonorrhea.

Complications of Dormant Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea can remain asymptomatic for a long period. By the time it manifests signs and symptoms, the infection has probably spread to other parts of the body.

In women, gonorrhea can travel from the cervix and up to the uterus and fallopian tubes. The spreading of gonorrhea to these organs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

If left untreated, PID can cause ectopic pregnancy or pregnancy outside the womb. PID can also cause blockage of the fallopian tubes and lead to infertility.

In men, gonorrhea can infect the epididymis or the tube that stores the sperm which eventually causes sterility.

In rare cases, untreated gonorrhea can spread to the blood and joints. This complication is known as disseminated gonococcal infection. Symptoms include joint pain and skin disorders wherein rashes of red and pink spots become filled with pus.

Diagnosis of Dormant Gonorrhea

The best way to know if you have gonorrhea is to get a test for the infection.

If you are sexually active, doctors advise that you have a full panel of STI tests at least once a year.

A full panel STI test will not only detect gonorrhea but also other asymptomatic STIs including the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, chlamydia, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and trichomoniasis.

A gonorrhea test is also crucial for pregnant women. This to avoid transmitting the virus to the infant during childbirth.

Key Takeaways

Dormant gonorrhea occurs when bacterial infection does not show any signs and symptoms. Because gonorrhea does not always show symptoms, people can unknowingly spread the infection. Dormant gonorrhea occurs more often to individuals who engage in unprotected oral and anal sex. Doctors advise a yearly full panel STI test for sexually active people.

Learn more about gonorrhea here.


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

Medically reviewed by

John Paul Abrina, MD

Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Sep 27, 2023

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