What Is Gonorrhea?
About 700,000 people are infected with gonorrhea each year in the U.S., and it is especially common among people aged 15 to 24 years.
What Are Symptoms of Gonorrhea?
Many people, especially women, have no symptoms at all. Many people do not know they have gonorrhea, so it is important to see a doctor for diagnosis at the first sign of gonorrhea.
Symptoms of gonorrhea in both men and women include:
If the urethra is infected:
- Pain or burning during urination
- If the rectum is infected:
- Rectal discharge
- Painful bowel movements
- Anal itching
If the throat or mouth is infected:
- Usually causes no symptoms
- May cause sore throat
Symptoms of gonorrhea in women include:
Symptoms of gonorrhea in men include:
- Milky, yellow, or green discharge from the penis
- Pain and swelling in one testicle (less common)
What Causes Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. Gonorrhea is spread from person to person during oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
The risk of getting gonorrhea is increased in people who have a new sexual partner, more than one sexual partner, or who have other sexually transmitted infections.
How Is Gonorrhea Diagnosed?
Gonorrhea is diagnosed with:
- A swab of the vagina or cervix (in women)
- A urine sample (in men)
- A swab of the mouth or rectum
What Is the Treatment for Gonorrhea?
Treatment for gonorrhea is the same for women and men and involves a one-time antibiotic treatment with ceftriaxone given as a shot into the muscle.
Sexual partners should also receive treatment because it is possible to be reinfected with gonorrhea. Re-infection is common, and patients should be retested for gonorrhea three months after treatment of the initial infection. Sex should be avoided until both the patient and partner have been treated.
What Are Complications of Gonorrhea?
If untreated, gonorrhea can lead to serious complications, including:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women
- Epididymitis in men, which can lead to infertility
- Bloodstream infection, accompanied by joint infection and arthritis
- Higher risk of infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- During pregnancy
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