Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea

Definition

Gonorrhea is a type of sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Causes

The infection is caused by a bacteria. It spreads during oral, genital, or anal sex with an infected partner. It can also spread from a mother to her baby during birth.

Risk Factors

Gonorrhea is most common among sexually active young adults.

Other things that raise your chances of getting it are having:

  • An STI or had one in the past
  • A new sex partner
  • More than one sex partner
  • A sex partner with an STI
  • Not using a condom or not using it properly if you or partner are having sex with more than 1 person

Symptoms

Most people who have gonorrhea do not have symptoms. If they do happen, they may appear 1 to 14 days after exposure. In some cases, they do not happen for a month.

Men may have:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Burning while urinating
  • Itching in the urethra

Women may have:

  • Burning while urinating
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Belly pain
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding

Rectal symptoms in both men and women are:

  • Itching
  • Soreness
  • Bleeding
  • Painful stools

Gonorrhea can cause serious health problems in both men and women. You will need to seek care.

Female Reproductive System Organs

Female Reproductive Organs
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Untreated gonorrhea can cause severe infections in:

  • Joints
  • Brain
  • Eyes
  • Heart

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is based on:

Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Urine tests
  • Tests of genital fluid
  • Throat culture
  • Test of fluid in joint, blood or fluid around the spine but this is less common

Treatment

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. Some strains have resisted this them. You and your doctor will work together to find one that works for you.

All of your sex partners should be tested and treated. Do not have sex until you and your partners are done with treatment and symptoms are gone.

Prevention

To lower your chances of getting gonorrhea:

  • Abstain from sex.
  • Have sex with only one partner.
  • Use a latex condom during sexual activity if you or partner are having sex with more than 1 person.

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
http://www.niaid.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Sex Information and Education Council of Canada
http://www.sieccan.org

References:

Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated April 6, 2018. Accessed December 31, 2019.
Gonococcal cervicitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated March 14, 2018. Accessed December 31, 2019.
Gonococcal urethritis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated March 14, 2018. Accessed December 31, 2019.
Gonorrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 6, 2017. Accessed December 31, 2019.
Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2014 Dec 16;161(12):902-10.
Workowski KA, Berman S, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.
Last reviewed December 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 12/31/2019

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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