- Caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae
- Also called "clap," "drip," or GC
- Women ages 15-24 years old and men ages 20-29
years old have the highest rates of gonorrhea in LA
- Many men and most women have no symptoms
- Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics
- Having gonorrhea can increase your chances of getting HIV
How do you get it?
You can get gonorrhea by having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a person who has gonorrhea. It is passed through contact with semen, vaginal fluids or discharge. Most people with gonorrhea do not know they have it, but they can still pass the disease. In women, gonorrhea infects the
vagina or cervix and can be found in vaginal fluids. In men, gonorrhea infects the urethra (where urine and semen come out). Gonorrhea can also infect the rectum
and throat. A pregnant woman with gonorrhea can pass it to her newborn baby during childbirth.
Many people with gonorrhea have no symptoms.
Men may develop a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis 1-14 days
after infection, or as many as 30 days after. When a woman has symptoms, they
are often so mild that they seem like a bladder or vaginal infection. Women may
notice burning with urination, increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding
between periods. In both men and women, rectal infections can cause anal
discharge, itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements. Infections in the throat may cause mild soreness or redness, but these symptoms are rare.
If gonorrhea is not treated, it can spread in the reproductive organs. In women, untreated gonorrhea can cause scarring and inflammation of the fallopian tubes and ovaries, a condition called
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID can cause infertility and chronic pelvic pain, and can increase the risk of a life threatening ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. In men, untreated gonorrhea can lead to a painful infection of the testicles known as epididymitis, which can cause sterility. In rare cases, gonorrhea can spread to the blood stream and cause a general infection with rash and joint pain. A baby born to a mother with gonorrhea may develop an eye infection which can cause blindness.
To get tested for gonorrhea, go to a doctor or health
All sexually active women under age 25 should be tested for gonorrhea every
year, and women 25 years or older should be tested if they have a new partner,
multiple partners, or a partner with an STD. Men who have sex with men should be
tested at least once a year, and as often as every 3 to 6 months depending on
your sexual behavior. Gonorrhea tests that require only a urine sample from the
patient are now available at most clinics. In women, a test for gonorrhea can
also be done by swabbing the cervix or vagina during a pelvic exam. For men who
have sex with men, and for some other patients, your doctor may swab your throat
or rectum to test for gonorrhea, or sometimes you can collect the rectal swab
Gonorrhea can be treated and cured with two different
antibiotics taken at the same time. It takes one week
for the medicine to completely cure gonorrhea. Make sure
both you and your sex partner(s) are cured before having
Over time, the bacteria that cause
gonorrhea have been able to develop resistance to many
antibiotics, meaning that many medicines that used to
cure the infection no longer work. This makes gonorrhea
a major public health problem. It is important to take
both of the medicines that cure gonorrhea at the same
time and to follow your doctor's instructions. If you
have symptoms and they continue for more than a few days
after receiving treatment, you should return to a health
care provider to be checked again.
Latex condoms provide excellent protection against gonorrhea. The female condom and polyurethane (plastic) condoms are equally effective. Pregnant women should seek prenatal care early, to prevent passing gonorrhea to the newborn.