Gonorrhea is a bacterial STI, infecting over 300,000 people in the U.S. each year.
Gonorrhea is primarily transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex (even without full penetration). It can also be transmitted from infected fluids to the eye and from mother to child during birth.
Most males experience symptoms within 1-14 days of infection. Most females do not experience any symptoms.
Females (if symptoms are present) may experience vaginal discharge, pain or burning sensation during urination, lower abdominal and lower back pain, pain during intercourse, bleeding between periods, nausea, fever, or conjunctivitis (inflamed eyelid) if infected fluids come in contact with the eye.
Males may experience discharge from the penis, pain or burning sensation during urination, frequent urination, pain or swelling of the testes, or conjunctivitis (inflamed eyelid).
Without treatment, gonorrhea can lead to serious complications. For females, these include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can lead to infertility, chronic menstrual difficulties, cystitis (bladder infection), mucopurulent cervicitis, and disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI). For males, complications include prostatitis (inflamed prostate), urethritis (inflamed urethra) that may involve scarring, infertility, and epididymitis (inflamed epididymis).
Gonorrhea can be diagnosed with a urine test or a swab test. Many females get a gonorrhea test as part of their pelvic exam.
Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. Some strains of gonorrhea are resistant to certain antibiotics, so different treatment may be needed. All partners should be tested, and treated if appropriate. The patient should avoid sex until all treatment has been completed. Because people infected with gonorrhea are often also infected with chlamydia, they may be treated for both at the same time.
The following strategies can help reduce the risk of infection:
• Mutual monogamy
• Condoms, dental dams, or other barrier methods