What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can affect both men and women. It is caused by a bacteria, It can affect the genitals, rectum, or throat. Gonorrhea is a very common infection for sexually active adults and teenagers. The age group most commonly affected is 15-24-year-olds, but any person of any age, who engages in sexual activity with another infected person is at risk.

If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems such as infertility and painful infections.

Symptoms of Gonorrhea

Many people who have gonorrhea don’t get any symptoms at all. But some men experience painful urination, pus-like discharge from the tip of the penis, or pain or swelling in one testicle.

Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea infection in women include increased vaginal discharge, painful urination, bleeding between periods (such as after vaginal intercourse), and abdominal or pelvic pain.

Some people experience symptoms of gonorrhea in other parts of their body such as the:

  • Rectum. Some people experience pus-like discharge, spots of bright red blood on toilet tissue, anal itching, and having to strain during bowel movements.
  • Eyes. Gonorrhea can cause eye pain, sensitivity to light, and pus-like discharge from one or both eyes.
  • Throat. Symptoms of an infection might include a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes in the neck( Nodules on the side of the neck, just below your jaw).
  • Joints. One or more joints become infected by bacteria (septic arthritis), the affected joints might be warm, extremely painful (especially during movement) red, and swollen.

If you experience any of these symptoms, or if you think you have risk of infection from a previous sexual encounter, book an appointment with a healthcare provider immediately for an STI test and a treatment plan. Your telehealthcare team can help you access testing and treatment near you.

Who Is At Risk of Gonorrhea?

Anyone who is sexually active (whether that’s vaginal, anal, or oral sex) can catch or transmit gonorrhea if protection (such as condoms) isn’t used. Get an STI test if you’ve had unprotected sex. it is recommended that you are also tested for other sexually transmitted infections at the same time.

According to the CDC, if you are a man who has sex with men, you should be tested for gonorrhea every year. If you are a sexually active woman under 25, or an older woman with new or multiple sexual partners, you should be tested for gonorrhea every year. You can discuss this with your doctor. Some people should be tested more often, based on sexual activity-related risk factors.

Gonorrhea Diagnosis

To test to see if you have gonorrhea, your healthcare provider will ask for a urine (pee) test, or conduct a swab test of the area. A swab of your throat, urethra, vagina or rectum can collect bacteria that can be identified in a lab. Your healthcare provider can help you access testing and treatment near you.

For women, home test kits are available for gonorrhea. They include vaginal swabs for self-testing. These swabs are then sent to a specified lab for testing.Talk to your healthcare provider about different options to get notified about your results.

Gonorrhea Treatment

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection. Because the bacteria has become somewhat resistant against oral antibiotics, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention recommends that most cases of gonorrhea are treated with an antibiotic injection called ceftriaxone. It is usually given as a single dose injection in the thigh or buttox area.

People with gonorrhea should get another test three months after treatment to check for re-infection.

FAQs

What causes gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This bacteria infects the reproductive tract, including the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes in women, and the urethra in women and men. The bacteria can also infect the membranes of the mouth, throat, eyes, and rectum. The bacteria is usually spread by an infected person through unprotected sexual activities to another person. If you believe you may have gonorrhea or have recently had unprotected sex, see your doctor immediately for a test.

Can gonorrhea go away on its own?

No. Gonorrhea is an infection of the reproductive tract in men and women. Sometimes when left untreated, it can seem like it went away, but that isn’t the case. Even without symptoms, Gonorrhea can spread into the uterus and fallopian tubes in women, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can result in scarring of the fallopian tubes, thus causing a greater risk of pregnancy complications and infertility if left untreated. PID requires immediate treatment by your doctor.

Can you get gonorrhea from oral sex?

Yes. Giving oral sex to a partner with an infected penis can result in gonorrhea in the throat. Receiving oral sex from a partner with gonorrhea of the throat can also infect your penis. Giving oral sex to a partner with an infected vagina or urinary tract might result in getting gonorrhea in the throat. Receiving oral sex from a partner with gonorrhea of the throat can infect your vagina. Oral sex can infect the anus as well.

How do you catch gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can affect both men and women. It causes an infection in the genitals, rectum, or throat. Gonorrhea is highly contagious through unprotected sex, including vaginal, anal or oral. Using protection (condoms) is the only way to prevent catching gonorrhea.

How long does gonorrhea last untreated?

Gonorrhea will not go away on its own - though symptoms may come and go. If left untreated, gonorrhea can infect and spread to other reproductive parts in the uterus and fallopian tubes in women, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can result in scarring of the fallopian tubes, which carries a greater risk of pregnancy complications and infertility if left untreated. In men, gonorrhea can lead to infertility if left untreated. Seek medical attention immediately if you think you may have gonorrhea.

How long does it take to treat gonorrhea?

The good news is there is effective treatment for gonorrhea. The CDC now recommends a single dose of ceftriaxone injected into the muscles for the treatment of gonorrhea. If ceftriaxone is unavailable then a cefixime tablet may be given instead alongside azithromycin. If you're allergic to cephalosporin antibiotics (derived from the fungus) you might be given a gemifloxacin tablet (Factive) or injectable gentamicin and oral azithromycin.

Can you still have gonorrhea after treatment?

It is becoming harder to treat some cases of gonorrhea, as drug-resistant strains are increasing. After a few days of treatment, if your symptoms do go away or get worse, then you need to see your doctor for more testing. Once you’ve been successfully treated for gonorrhea, it is still possible to catch it again if you have unprotected sex with an infected partner. This is why it is very important for both you and your partner to be treated at the same time, so you don’t continue to “pass it back and forth”. Curing gonorrhea does not make you immune from contracting it again.

How can gonorrhea be prevented?

Because gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease, prevention is best. Male and female condoms for vaginal and anal sex are advised. Using a condom to cover the penis or a latex or plastic square (dam) to cover the female genitals if you have oral sex is the best prevention methods. Having no vaginal, anal, or oral sex is always the best prevention, but not the most realistic.

Is gonorrhea a STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease)?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. It used to be known as "the clap" in slang terms. Gonorrhea is highly contagious and can easily spread from partner to partner.

How do doctors check for gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea testing can be as easy as consulting with your healthcare provider and peeing in a cup. This can be done discreetly, and your healthcare provider can help search a lab near you, to order and complete the testing there. . Healthcare providers may also test the discharge that comes from your penis, vagina, or anus by touching these areas with a swab (which looks similar to a swab used to clean your ears) and sending the swab to the lab for testing. A telehealthcare provider can help identify which testing is right for you, and help refer you to a local location if this is needed.

Are gonorrhea and chlamydia the same thing?

Gonorrhea and chlamydia are both STIs caused by bacteria but they are different bacterias and infections. Chlamydia is less likely to spread to areas other than the reproductive tract, than gonorrhea, but they can both cause long term problems-like infertility. Both gonorrhea and chlamydia are spread through unprotected sex including vaginal, anal and oral. Both may present with symptoms, or without any symptoms. Condoms are the best way of preventing both gonorrhea and chlamydia.