- Gonorrhea (GC) is an STD that is spread through oral, anal, and vaginal sex.
- Symptoms in girls include vaginal discharge, burning with urination, pelvic pain, and irregular periods.
- Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics; condoms lower your chance of getting GC.
Have you heard of "the clap," or "a dose," or "a drip"? These are all names for gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a common STD caused by a kidney-shaped bacteria that grows in pairs.
How common is gonorrhea?
There are over 700,000 cases of gonorrhea in the U.S. every year.
Am I at risk?
Anyone having unprotected sex with someone infected with gonorrhea can get gonorrhea.
How is gonorrhea spread?
Gonorrhea is spread through sex—oral, anal, and vaginal. Ejaculation is not needed for the disease to be passed on or caught. Women are much more likely to catch gonorrhea from men than men are from women but both can get it. Gonorrhea can also be passed to the eye by a hand or other body part carrying infected fluids.
What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?
You may not have any symptoms if you have gonorrhea. If you do have symptoms, they can take 1-30 days (average 4-8 days) for symptoms to develop. You can pass the germ on to others whether or not you have symptoms.
Symptoms of gonorrhea in girls include:
- Vaginal discharge
- A burning feeling when urinating
- Pain with intercourse
- Pain in the lower abdomen (pelvic pain)
- Irregular periods
Symptoms of gonorrhea in guys include:
- Milky discharge from the penis
- A burning feeling when urinating
- Pain and swelling in one testicle
Symptoms of gonorrhea in both girls and guys include:
- Sore throat (for gonorrhea in the throat)
- Pain, discharge, and bleeding from the anus (for gonorrhea in the anus)
- Redness, itching, or discharges of the eyes (for gonorrhea in the eye)
How is gonorrhea diagnosed?
Your health care provider can diagnose gonorrhea by taking a urine sample or by doing a swab of the affected area (penis, vagina, cervix, anus, throat, eye). It is important to get tested so your health care provider can treat you for the right disease (chlamydia and gonorrhea have very similar symptoms but need different treatment).
Is there a cure for gonorrhea?
Yes. Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider. If you treat gonorrhea early, it is usually cured with a single dose of antibiotics (either injected or taken orally). The earlier gonorrhea is treated, the easier it is to cure. If the infection goes untreated, it can spread and cause pelvic infections which needs a longer course of antibiotics. You may even need to be hospitalized if the infection becomes serious.
Is gonorrhea dangerous?
Gonorrhea can cause serious problems if it goes untreated. It can spread from one area of the reproductive tract to other surrounding parts. Girls who have had a pelvic infection with gonorrhea are more likely to have a pregnancy in the tube (“ectopic pregnancy”) or pelvic pain. There is also a risk of gonorrhea spreading into the bloodstream and causing fever, chills, blisters on the skin, or arthritis of the joints.
How can I prevent spreading gonorrhea?
- If you think you have gonorrhea, you should stop having sex. As long as you have gonorrhea, you can pass it on to someone else. You need to wait until you have finished all treatment and your health care provider says you are cured.
- Make sure you tell all current and past sexual partners that you have gonorrhea, since you could have infected them. You may find this difficult to do, but it is very important to do so that those infected can get treated before more serious health problems occur.
- You need to make sure that your sexual partner gets tested and treated (if infected) at the same time as you, so that you don't re-infect each other.
- Make sure you use a latex (or polyurethane if you are allergic to latex) condom every time you have vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
How can I avoid getting gonorrhea?
The best way to keep yourself from getting gonorrhea is to not have sexual intercourse. If you decide to have sexual intercourse, make sure you use a condom every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
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