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

What does gonorrhea do to my body?

Often a person with gonorrhea will have no symptoms and will look and feel fine. If you do have symptoms, they may include:

  • discharge from the penis or vagina
  • burning or pain when peeing
  • the need to urinate (pee) often
  • bleeding between periods

If the infection isn’t treated in someone with a uterus and spreads to the fallopian tubes, there may still be no signs or symptoms. But some people may have one or more of the following symptoms, which can be a sign that the infection has caused a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):

  • lower abdominal pain
  • lower back pain
  • pain during penetrative sex
  • bleeding between menstrual periods
  • nausea
  • fever

Symptoms of anal infections may include anal or rectal itching, discharge, and pain when pooping.

Gonorrhea infections of the mouth and throat also usually have no symptoms, but a person may have
soreness and redness in the mouth or throat.

Since many people with gonorrhea infection will have no symptoms at all, the only way to know if you are infected is to get tested.

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:

  • 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
  • Redness or swelling of the penis and testicles (balls)

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.

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