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Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) 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.

Sample Gonorrhea
Sample Gonorrhea


  • You can get gonorrhea by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea.
  • A pregnant woman with gonorrhea can give the infection to her baby during childbirth.
  • If you are pregnant and have gonorrhea, you can give the infection to your baby during delivery.
  • This can cause serious health problems for your baby.


Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. However, men who do have symptoms, may have:

  • A burning sensation when urinating;
  • A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis;
  • Painful or swollen testicles (although this is less common).
  • Most women with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms.
  • Painful or burning sensation when urinating;
  • Increased vaginal discharge;
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods.

Rectal infections may either cause no symptoms or cause symptoms in both men and women that may include:

  • Discharge;
  • Anal itching;
  • Soreness;
  • Bleeding;
  • Painful bowel movements.
Chart of gonorrhea infection rates (USA, 1941-2007)
Chart of gonorrhea infection rates (USA, 1941-2007)


  • Most of the time, urine can be used to test for gonorrhea.
  • 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.


  • Gonorrhea can be cured with the right treatment.
  • It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection.
  • Medication for gonorrhea should not be shared with anyone.
  • Although medication will stop the infection, it will not undo any permanent damage caused by the disease

Gonorrhea can be cured with the right treatment.

Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea

  • It is becoming harder to treat some gonorrhea, as drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing.
  • If your symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment, you should return to a health care provider to be checked again.
Penicillin cures gonorrhea
Penicillin cures gonorrhea

Resuming sexual activity after treatment

  • You should wait seven days after finishing all medications before having sex.
  • To avoid getting infected with gonorrhea again or spreading gonorrhea to your partner(s), you and your sex partner(s) should avoid having sex until you have each completed treatment.
  • If you’ve had gonorrhea and took medicine in the past, you can still get infected again if you have unprotected sex with a person who has gonorrhea.
  • Following the spread of gonococcal fluoroquinolone resistance, the cephalosporin antibiotics have been the foundation of recommended treatment for gonorrhea.
  • The emergence of cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea would significantly complicate the ability of providers to treat gonorrhea successfully, since we have few antibiotic options left that are simple, well-studied, well-tolerated and highly effective.
  • It is critical to continuously monitor antibiotic resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases

Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men. In women, untreated gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Some of the complications of PID are

  • Formation of scar tissue that blocks fallopian tubesexternal icon;
  • Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the wombexternal icon);
  • Infertility (inability to get pregnant);
  • Long-term pelvic/abdominal pain.
  • In men, gonorrhea can cause a painful condition in the tubes attached to the testicles. In rare cases, this may cause a man to be sterile, or prevent him from being able to father a child.
  • Rarely, untreated gonorrhea can also spread to your blood or joints. This condition can be life-threatening.
  • Untreated gonorrhea may also increase your chances of getting or giving HIV – the virus that causes AIDS.


  • The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
  • If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting gonorrhea:
  • Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results;
  • Using latex condoms the right way every time you have sex.
  • Any sexually active person can get gonorrhea through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Template:STD/STI Template:Gram-negative proteobacterial bacterial diseases

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