Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is especially common in men and women who are 15-24 years old. It doesn’t always cause symptoms, so some people don’t know they have it. Treatment with antibiotics is very effective, and using condoms can reduce your risk of infection.
Gonorrhea often causes no symptoms in women. When symptoms do occur, they are typically mild and are sometimes mistaken for vaginal or bladder infections. These symptoms might include:
- Pain or burning sensation while urinating
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
Some men don’t experience gonorrhea symptoms, but they are more likely to have them than women. These symptoms might include:
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Penile discharge that is white, yellow, or green
- Pain or swelling of the testicles
If infection occurs in the rectum, symptoms for men and women can include:
- Anal itching
- Painful bowel movements
Gonorrhea can cause serious complications if it goes untreated. Women might develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Men might develop a painful condition affecting the tubes attached to the testicles, which can cause sterility.
Medical providers use urine tests or swabs of the vagina, throat, or rectum to detect gonorrhea. This infection is usually cured easily with antibiotics. It’s best to get treated soon after becoming infected because the medications cannot undo any damage caused by gonorrhea.
A growing number of gonorrhea strains are drug-resistant. If your symptoms persist even after you’ve been treated, return to your healthcare provider for further testing. Even if you do not experience symptoms after treatment, you might want to get retested to make sure your gonorrhea infection has cleared.
Protect Against Gonorrhea
Using condoms is the best way to reduce your risk of getting an STI. Because gonorrhea can spread from infected areas via touch, putting a condom on before any sexual contact occurs offers the best protection.