What is gonorrhea?
Why worry about gonorrhea?
If you are HIV- but have gonorrhea, the disease-fighting cells of your immune system are especially susceptible to HIV if you have unprotected sex with an HIV-infected partner. Rectal gonorrhea increases the risk of contracting HIV by ten to twenty times.
In about 1% of people with untreated gonorrhea, the infection can spread beyond the genital area to the bloodstream, skin, heart or joints. This is called Disseminated Gonococcal Infection (DGI). Symptoms include fever, multiple skin lesions, arthritis, infection of the inner lining of the heart, and meningitis. DGI can be treated with antibiotics.
PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), a serious pelvic infection in women, is a more common result of untreated gonorrhea. In PID, the bacteria move from the vagina up through the cervix and into the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Blockage and scarring can damage the tubes, making a woman who conceives more likely to have a tubal pregnancy. Left untreated, PID can cause infertility. Untreated gonorrhea can also cause chronic menstrual problems, postpartum endometritis, urinary tract infections, miscarriage, and cervical discharge.
Men with untreated gonorrhea can occasionally develop epididymitis, a painful infection of the testicles. Untreated gonorrheal infections can also cause inflammation of the prostate and urethral scarring, sometimes leading to infertility.
What are the symptoms?
Men who have gonorrhea in the penis or anal area may experience a discharge from the head of the penis or the anus; pain or itching of the head of the penis; swelling of the penis or testicles; pain and/or burning upon urination; frequent urination; anal or rectal itching; white anal discharge; and/or pain during bowel movements.
Women with gonorrhea may have a discharge from the vagina; lower abdominal pain, especially during or after sex; unusual bleeding with cramping; pain or burning with urination.
If you're infected with gonorrhea in the throat, there are usually no symptoms, except possibly a sore throat.
What is a gonorrhea test like?
How is gonorrhea treated?
What can I do if I have gonorrhea?
How do I avoid getting gonorrhea?
The only way to be 100% sure of eliminating your risk of contracting gonorrhea or other STDs is to abstain from sex. If you are sexually active, however, using condoms (male or female) for sexual activity is your best bet for protecting yourself. Since gonorrhea can be transmitted during oral sex, primarily mouth-to-penis or penis-to-mouth contact, it would be wise to use a condom when performing oral sex on a man or if you're a man, having oral sex performed on you. Also, we recommend regular STD checkups at least every six months if you're sexually active with more than one monogamous partner. Gonorrhea and other bacterial STDs are curable with proper diagnosis and treatment.
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