Does Gonorrhea Cause Miscarriage?

The gonorrhea bacteria

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It's well known that sexually transmitted infections during pregnancy can sometimes be linked to miscarriage, but the risk is different for each type of infection. What's the risk of gonorrhea?

There's conflicting information out there about gonorrhea during pregnancy being linked to miscarriage. Some research has linked untreated infections to an increased incidence of miscarriage, and at least one study has found that having untreated gonorrhea can be linked to increased risk of a preterm birth.

Having an untreated infection while giving birth can cause life-threatening complications for the baby, and untreated gonorrhea before pregnancy can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which is a risk factor for ectopic pregnancy.

All in all, gonorrhea and pregnancy aren't a good combination, and the disease is easily treated, so it makes sense to seek advice from a physician if you have symptoms of gonorrhea or if you feel you may be at risk. Note that a significant number of women do not experience any symptoms when they have a gonorrhea infection, which is why routine prenatal screening is important.

What Is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Depending on the severity of illness, a gonococcal infection can cause local damage to the genitourinary tract, more extensive damage to the upper urinary tract or even systemic infection, which affects the entire body. Systemic or disseminated gonococcal infection can result in endocarditis (heart disease), arthritis and meningitis.

Both men and women can get gonorrhea. In men, gonorrhea is often symptomatic and results in urethritis and pain with urination. Many women with gonorrhea have no symptoms and are asymptomatic. However, in women with clinically apparent infection, symptoms take about 10 days to appear.

Gonorrhea is typically tested for and treated in an outpatient (office) setting by an OB-GYN, family medicine physician or internist.

Symptoms of Gonorrhea in Women

Here are some symptoms of gonorrhea in women:

Anywhere between 10% and 20% or more of women with cervicitis secondary to gonorrhea also have throat infection attributable to the infection. Throat infection with gonorrhea results from oral sex.

Pregnancy doesn't stop gonorrhea from causing illness and symptoms; however, women in their second and third trimesters who have gonorrhea less commonly exhibit pelvic inflammatory disease.

Effects on a Newborn

Gonorrhea in the newborn has been linked to infection of the eyes (which can cause blindness), lungs, and rectum. On a related note, gonorrhea found in an infant or young child is usually due to sexual abuse.


In the United States, the overall prevalence of gonorrhea has declined ever since 1975. Nevertheless, gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.

Throughout the world, there are 62 million cases of gonorrhea diagnosed each year, with the greatest number of people infected with the disease living in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.


People with gonorrhea--especially pregnant women--are often treated for chlamydia at the same time that they are treated for gonorrhea. Like gonorrhea, chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection.

Gonorrhea can be treated with oral antibiotics like Cipro (a fluoroquinolone) or ceftriaxone (a cephalosporin). Alternatively, gonorrhea can be treated with an injection of antibiotics (Rocephin). Of note, chlamydia is treated with antibiotics, too, such as amoxicillin, azithromycin, and erythromycin. A single dose of antibiotics will work in over 95% of uncomplicated gonorrhea cases.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STD facts—STDs & pregnancy detailed fact sheet.

  2. Heumann CL, Quilter LA, Eastment MC, Heffron R, Hawes SE. Adverse birth outcomes and maternal neisseria gonorrhoeae infection: a population-based cohort study in Washington stateSex Transm Dis. 2017;44(5):266-271. doi:10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000592

  3. Kirkcaldy RD, Weston E, Segurado AC, Hughes G. Epidemiology of gonorrhoea: a global perspectiveSex Health. 2019;16(5):401-411. doi:10.1071/SH19061

  4. Javanbakht M, Westmoreland D, Gorbach P. Factors associated with pharyngeal gonorrhea in young people: implications for prevention. Sex Transm Dis. 2018;45(9):588-593. doi:10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000822

  5. Committee on Gynecologic Practice. ACOG committee opinion no. 645: dual therapy for gonococcal infections. Obstet Gynecol. 2015;126(5):e95-9. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000001149. PMID: 26488526

  6. Kidd S, Workowski KA. Management of gonorrhea in adolescents and adults in the United StatesClin Infect Dis. 2015;61 Suppl 8(Suppl 8):S785-S801. doi:10.1093/cid/civ731MLA

By Krissi Danielsson
Krissi Danielsson, MD is a doctor of family medicine and an advocate for those who have experienced miscarriage.