Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a disease caused by bacteria that live and grow in wet areas such as the penis, vagina, eyes, mouth, throat or anus. You can get gonorrhea through vaginal, oral or anal sex. A mother can also pass it to her baby during childbirth.

What does gonorrhea do to my body?

Guys/Men: Gonorrhea signs may never appear, or can appear within 1-30 days of infection. You might experience:

  • Burning or pain when peeing or defecating (pooping)
  • Unusual white, yellow or green discharge from your penis
  • Painful or swollen testicles (balls)
  • Frequent peeing

Girls/Women: Most girls won't have any symptoms, so they won't know that they are infected. If you do have symptoms, you might notice:

  • Burning or pain when peeing
  • Painful bowel movements
  • A lot more vaginal discharge that is sometimes yellow or bloody
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain, lower back pain, pain during sex or a fever, which may mean that gonorrhea has become worse and turned into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

If gonorrhea affects your eye, you may experience discharge, itching, redness and/or swelling. If gonorrhea affects your mouth or throat, you may experience a sore throat, and/or redness in the mouth and throat area.

Is there a cure for gonorrhea?

Yes. Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. Talk with your doctor to decide what medicine is best for you. People with gonorrhea often also have chlamydia, so you might need more than one medicine.

Note: If you are pregnant or might be pregnant, ask your doctor about medicines which will not hurt the baby.

If you do not treat gonorrhea you may experience:

Guys/Men
  • Infertility (not being able to have children)
  • Redness or swelling of the penis and testicles (balls)

Girls/Women
  • PID
  • Infertility (not being able to have children)
  • Irregular (not on time) periods, and long lasting period problems
  • Miscarriages (baby dies before it is born), if you are pregnant

You may also get Disseminated Gonococcal Infection (DGI), a disease that occurs when untreated gonorrhea spreads to the skin, heart, blood, and joints. This can cause other problems like arthritis, blood infections, skin lesions, meningitis, and swelling of the lining of the heart.

How do I find out if I have gonorrhea?

Many people with gonorrhea don't know it and have no symtpoms. The only way to find out if you have it is to get tested.

How can I reduce my risk of getting gonorrhea?

There are many ways to reduce your risk. The best way to avoid gonorrhea or any STI is to not have sex. But if you choose to have sex, you can reduce your risk of getting an STI. Learn how here.

Do you know . . .

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If you are sexually active or have been in the past, do you know your STI status? Learn more about testing and find a testing center near you.