Risks and Severity

The use of a condom is essential to protect yourself and your partners against STDs. If you have any concerns, you should have an STD screening test. In the event of an infection, make sure you follow the correct treatment and inform your sexual partners.

What are the complications of gonorrhea?

If left untreated, the gonorrhea infection can spread to the upper genital organs and cause complications:

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (infection of the uterus, the fallopian tubes or the ovaries)
  • ectopic pregnancies, miscarriage, preterm birth, still birth 
  • infertility in men and women
  • arthritis.

After that, the infection could spread to the abdominal cavity and the liver.

There is frequently a co-infection with Chlamydia (in 20 to 40% of cases). 

DID YOU KNOW? The co-infections most frequently observed with HIV are syphilis and gonorrhea. Joint research into HIV and STDs is recommended for men who have sex with men (MSM). 


During pregnancy, an untreated gonorrhoea infection is associated with the risks of premature birth, a premature rupture of membranes and low birth weight.

The infection can equally be transmitted from the mother to the child, during birth. A perinatal gonococcal infection can cause conjunctivitis, corneal scarring, blindness, pharyngitis or pneumonia.

If they have an STD, pregnant women can undergo antibiotic treatment.

Sciensano publishes two reports each year documenting the evolution of STDs in Belgium. The reports are based on data-collection networks.   

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