Center for Young Women's Health

Gonorrhea

 

Remember

  • Gonorrhea (GC) is an STI 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.
Getting Treatment:
The Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital offers special services in the diagnosis and treatment of gonorrhea.

Have you heard of "the clap," or "a dose," or "a drip"? These are all names for gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a common STI caused by a bacteria.


How common is gonorrhea?

There are over 820,000 cases of gonorrhea in the U.S. every year.

 

Am I at risk?

Anyone having unprotected sexual contact with someone infected with gonorrhea can get gonorrhea.

 

How is gonorrhea spread?

Gonorrhea is spread through sex—oral, anal, and vaginal. 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. Symptoms, typically develop within 2-10 days of getting infected however, they can take several months to show up. You can pass gonorrhea on to others whether or not you have symptoms.

 

Symptoms of gonorrhea in girls include:

Symptoms of gonorrhea in guys include:

Symptoms of gonorrhea in both girls and guys include:

How is gonorrhea diagnosed?

Your health care provider can diagnose gonorrhea by taking a urine sample, by testing discharge from the vagina, anus or urethra, or by doing a swab of the affected area (penis, vagina, cervix, anus, throat, eye). It's important to get tested so your health care provider can treat you for the right disease (chlamydia and gonorrhea have 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 antibiotics In recent years, the bacteria that causes gonorrhea has become resistant to some antibiotics (this means the drug no longer causes the bacteria to die), making it even more important for people infected to take all of their medicine on time. The earlier gonorrhea is treated, the easier it is to cure. If the infection goes untreated, it can spread and cause pelvic infections, which need 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?

How can I avoid getting gonorrhea?

The best way to keep 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.

 

Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital

 

Updated: 10/8/2013

 

Related Guides:

Making Healthy Sexual Decisions

As a young adult, it's normal to think about sex, have sexual feelings, and have a desire to learn more about your own body. Deciding to have a sexual relationship is an important decision since it involves both your body and your emotions. You need to make sure that it is the right decision for you...

 

Female Condoms

The female condom is a lubricated sheath worn by the female inside of her vagina during sex. It provides protection against pregnancy and some protection against STIs...

 

Male Condoms

The male condom is a sheath worn over the penis during intercourse. It prevents pregnancy by acting as a barrier and preventing the man's semen from entering the woman's vagina...

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