Gonorrhea: What is it?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can infect both men and women. It can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years.

Symptoms (signs that you have a disease):

  • For Women:Most women with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms. However, women with gonorrhea are at risk of having serious problems from the infection, even if they don’t have any symptoms. Some problems may include both women and men not being able to have children, infections that spread to other areas of the body, problems in babies when they are born, and an increased chance of getting HIV.

    If women have symptoms they may include:

    • Painful or burning feeling when peeing
    • Increased vaginal discharge (a liquid or mucus)
    • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • for Men:Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. However, men’s symptoms may include:
    • A burning feeling when peeing
    • A white, yellow, or green discharge (a liquid or mucus) from the penis
    • Painful or swollen testicles (balls). This is less common

Gonorrhea: How can I get it?

You can get gonorrhea from the following types of contact with either a male or female who has this STI:

  • Oral sex
  • Anal sex
  • Vaginal sex

How can I get tested for it?

Most of the time, urine (pee) can be used to test for gonorrhea. But if you have had oral and/or anal sex, swabs may be used to collect samples from your throat and/or rectum. In some cases, a swab may be used to collect a sample from a man’s urethra (urine canal) or a woman’s cervix.

How can I be treated for it?

Gonorrhea can be cured by both you and your sex partner(s) taking medication for a full course of treatment during which you don’t have sex. Treatment usually means having to get an antibiotic shot, and taking pills. If a person’s symptoms for more than a few days after receiving treatment, he or she should be examined again by a health care provider.

How can I keep myself and my partner(s) from getting it?

  • Using male condoms
  • Using female condoms
  • Not having sex (abstinence)

How can I protect my partner(s) once I know I have it?

You should not have sex again until seven days after you and your sex partner(s) have completed treatment to avoid spreading gonorrhea. If you’ve had gonorrhea and took medicine in the past, you can still get infected again if you have unprotected sex.