How is gonorrhea prevented?

Updated: Jun 15, 2021
  • Author: Shahab Qureshi, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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In an effort to minimize transmission of gonorrhea, patients should refrain from all sexual activity for at least 7 days after treatment, and all sexual partners should also undergo appropriate treatment.

The prevention of gonococcal infections is based on education, mechanical or chemical prophylaxis, and early diagnosis and treatment. Condoms offer partial protection, while effective antibiotics taken in therapeutic doses immediately before or soon after exposure can mediate an infection. Several studies have shown that male circumcision status had no statistically significant impact on susceptibility to or acquisition of gonorrhea. [67, 68]

The US Preventive Services Task Force (2008) found that behavioral counseling interventions in multiple sessions conducted in STD clinics and primary care settings effectively reduces the occurrence of STDs in at-risk adults and adolescents. However, they determined that additional studies are needed for evaluation of lower-intensity behavioral counseling interventions and behavioral counseling in lower-risk patient populations. [69]

Preventive measures also include attention to partner notification. Patients should be encouraged to notify their sexual partners of their exposure and encourage them to seek medical care; this is patient referral. If patients are unwilling or unable to notify their partners, then the assistance of state and local departments of public health can be enlisted; this is provider referral.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has released guidelines on expedited partner therapy for chlamydial and gonorrheal sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). [70, 71] While designed to prevent reinfection with chlamydia and gonorrhea, the recommendations can also be applied to other STDs. The ACOG recommendations include the following:

  • Expedited partner therapy to prevent reinfection, with legalization of expedited partner therapy
  • Counsel partners to undergo screening for HIV infection and other STDs
  • Expedited partner therapy contraindicated in cases of suspected abuse or compromised patient safety; pretreatment evaluation for abuse potential recommended
  • Expedited partner therapy medications and protocols based on CDC, state, and/or local guidelines

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