Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease or infection (also called an STD or STI). Other names for gonorrhea are clap, drip, dose, and strain.
The infection usually starts in the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the penis. The bacteria may also infect the throat or rectum during oral or anal sex. Gonorrhea that is not treated may spread into the bloodstream and to other parts of the body.
Also, if you have gonorrhea and have unsafe sex with someone who has HIV, you are more likely to be infected with HIV.
The infection is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is usually passed from person to person during oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
Many people don’t have symptoms. This means you could pass the infection to your sexual partner without knowing that you are infected.
If you do have symptoms, they usually start 2 to 10 days after you were exposed to the disease. Symptoms may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and sexual and medical history and examine you. Tests may include:
Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotic medicine. You may need to take more than 1 antibiotic.
If only the urethra is infected, antibiotic treatment should clear up the infection in about 10 days. If it is not treated, gonorrhea can cause scarring of the urethra, trouble urinating normally, and infection of the testicles. Testicle infection can sometimes cause infertility, which means that you would not be able to get your partner pregnant when you decide that you want to have a family.
You will be asked about your sexual partners. Your infection will be reported to the local health department and your sexual partners will be told that they have had contact with someone who has a sexually transmitted infection. (Your name will not be given.) This will help them get prompt treatment for the infection. It can also help prevent spreading the infection to others.
Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
Gonorrhea can be a serious health threat to you and the people you have sex with. Many antibiotic medicines no longer treat gonorrhea, so prevention is very important.