Last reviewed: August 2020
Last updated: September  2019



History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • urethral discharge in men
  • tenderness and/or swelling of the epididymis
  • mucopurulent or purulent exudate at the endocervix

Other diagnostic factors

  • pelvic pain in women
  • urethral irritation in men
  • dysuria in men
  • tenderness and/or swelling of testis
  • tenderness and/or swelling of prostate
  • anal pruritus
  • mucopurulent discharge from the rectum
  • rectal pain
  • tenesmus
  • rectal bleeding
  • vaginal discharge
  • cervical friability
  • uterine, adnexal, or cervical motion tenderness
  • uterine mass
  • anterior cervical lymphadenopathy
  • conjunctivitis
  • fever
  • skin lesions (papules, bullae, petechiae, or necrotic) at extremities
  • polyarthritis
  • purpuric rash
  • positive Brudzinski and Kernig sign
  • seizures
  • focal cerebral signs
  • murmur
  • ophthalmia neonatorum
  • rhinitis
  • urethritis (infantile)
  • vaginitis

Risk factors

  • age 15 to 29 years
  • men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • black ancestry
  • current or prior history of STI
  • multiple recent sexual partners
  • inconsistent condom use
  • risk factors of partner
  • history of sexual or physical abuse
  • substance use
  • past incarceration
  • high-morbidity community

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)
  • culture
  • urinalysis in men
  • Gram stain of urine sediment
  • Gram strain of urethral discharge
  • HIV test
  • syphilis test
More 1st investigations to order

Treatment algorithm


Assistant Professor

Division of Infectious Diseases

Department of Medicine

UCSD Antiviral Research Center

Division of Family Medicine

Department of Family and Preventive Medicine

UCSD La Jolla Family and Sports Medicine

San Diego



SM has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (Clinical and Healthcare Research Policy division), the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Gilead Sciences. SM has financial interests in Impact Biomedicines (now Celgene) and Forty Seven Inc. SM is an author of a number of references cited in this topic.

Peer reviewersVIEW ALL

Associate Professor

Ob/Gyn and Urology


Division of Urogynecology

Associate Residency Program Director

Temple University Hospital




VD declares that he has no competing interests.

Consultant in Genitourinary and HIV Medicine

Archway Centre & Mortimer Market Centre




EJ declares that she has no competing interests.

Use of this content is subject to our disclaimer