Gonorrhea is an STI that can affect men and women. It is a very common infection, especially among young people age 15-24 years. It can be spread by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea.
Most women with gonorrhea do not have symptoms. Even when they are present, symptoms can be mild and possibly mistaken for another condition. Some men also do not have any symptoms.
If Symptoms are Present:
Women may notice:
- Painful or burning sensation during urination
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
Men may notice:
- Burning sensation during urination
- White, yellow or green discharge from penis
- Painful or swollen testicles (less common)
Rectal Infection Symptoms:
- Anal Itching
- Painful bowel movements
Your healthcare provider may request a urine sample to test for gonorrhea. If you have had oral and/or anal sex, a swab of the throat and/or rectum may be used. Alternatively, a swab could be used to collect a specimen from a man’s urethra or a woman’s cervix.
Repeat testing is also encouraged if you have changed partners.
Gonorrhea infection is from bacteria, so treatment is a course of antibiotics. Often, this is given by an injection. If you are given medication to take at home, it is important to complete the entire course of treatment. Do not share your medication with anyone.
It is becoming harder to treat gonorrhea, as drug resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing. Follow up testing is recommended after treatment to ensure successful treatment and no repeat infection.
Untreated gonorrhea can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
Complications of PID include:
- Scar tissue formation blocking fallopian tubes
- Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the uterus)
- Inability to get pregnant
- Chronic pelvic or abdominal pain
Untreated gonorrhea can lead to a painful condition of the tubes attached to the testicles. In rare cases, men may become sterile or unable to father a child.
For Men and Women:
Also rare, untreated gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints. This infection can be life-threatening. Untreated gonorrhea can increase your chance of getting HIV.
Gonorrhea in Pregnancy
If you have untreated gonorrhea, you can spread the infection to your baby during delivery. This can cause serious health problems for your baby. Treating gonorrhea as soon as possible will make these complications for your baby less likely.