What is Gonorrhea?

  • Caused by the sexually transmitted bacterium Neisseia gonorroeae
  • Grows and multiplies in the moist, warm areas of the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes in women
  • Grows in the urethra in men and women
  • Can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus


  • Symptoms in women, if they occur, include painful or burning when urinating, increased vaginal discharge or vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Symptoms in men, if they occur, may appear about 2-5 days after exposure and my include a burning sensation with urinating, or a discharge from the penis
  • Some men may get painful or swollen testicles
  • Symptoms of rectal infection in both men and women include discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements
  • Infections of the throat may cause a sore throat but usually causes no symptoms


  • Spread through contact with fluids from the penis, vagina, mouth or anus
  • Ejaculation does not have to occur for transmission to occur
  • Women may be re-infected if their partners are not treated


  • Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men
  • Common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • May lead to chronic pelvic pain
  • Damage to the fallopian tubes increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy and infertility
  • Gonorrhea can spread to the blood and joints which is a life-threatening condition
  • Gonorrheal infections  can facilitate infection with HIV

Complications in Pregnancy

  • Pregnant women can pass the infection to her baby during delivery
  • May result in infection of the eyes leading to blindness, joint infection, or life-threatening blood infection in the baby
  • Gonorrhea is a major cause of blindness in 3rd world countries


  • Diagnosed by lab tests requiring a specimen taken from a site such as the cervix or penis
  • May be diagnosed through the urine


  • Treated with antibiotics
  • All sex partners should be notified, evaluated, tested, and treated
  • Persons with Gonorrhea should abstain from sexual contact until they and their sex partners have completed their treatment


  • Prevention is best achieved by abstinence from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship
  • The use of latex male condoms consistently and correctly can reduce the risk of transmission
  • CDC recommends screening all sexually active women younger than 26 annually  and for older women with risk factors including a new sex partner or multiple sex partners
  • All pregnant women should be screened for Gonorrhea
  • Women and men with new partners should be tested for all sexually transmitted diseases
  • Transmission of an STD cannot be prevented by washing the genitals, urinating, and/or douching after sex
  • Cannot be spread through contact with toilet seats, doorknobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, bathtubs, shared clothing, eating utensil