What is Gonorrhea?

What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can infect both men and women. This common infection is spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Infected mothers can also pass on the infection to their babies during childbirth.

Gonorrhea most often affects the genitals, rectum, and throat and can cause serious complications when not treated. Gonorrhea can be cured with the right treatment and like other sexually transmitted infections, can be prevented by abstaining from sex, proper use of latex condoms, and being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship.

How is gonorrhea spread?

The bacterium responsible for gonorrhea is Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The gonorrhea bacteria are often passed from one infected person to another during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Sexually active men and women between the ages of 15 and 24 years are at an increased risk, but other factors that can increase your risk include:

  • A new sex partner;
  • Having a sex partner who has other partners;
  • Having more than one sex partner;
  • Having had another sexually transmitted infection, including gonorrhea.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

It’s not uncommon for both men and women with gonorrhea to have no symptoms at all. But if symptoms are present, it is important to know how they affect different genders and sites of your body.

For men, signs and symptoms of gonorrhea can include:

  • A painful or burning sensation when urinating;
  • A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis;
  • Painful or swollen testicles (although this is a less common symptom).

For women, symptoms are often uncommon or mild, meaning gonorrhea can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Despite the absence of symptoms, women with gonorrhea are at risk for developing serious complications from the infection.

For women, signs and symptoms of gonorrhea can include:

  • A painful or burning sensation when urinating;
  • Increased vaginal discharge;
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods;
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain.

Gonorrhea can also affect different sites of the body:

  • Rectum. Symptoms of rectal infections may include discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements.
  • Eyes. Symptoms of gonorrhea that affects your eyes may include eye pain, sensitivity to light, and discharge from one or both eyes.
  • Throat. Symptoms of an infection in the throat may include a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Joints. Symptoms of one or more joints infected by bacteria (septic arthritis) may include warm, red, swollen, and extremely painful joints, especially during movement.

How do I know if I have gonorrhea?

If you or your partner has an STI or symptoms of an STI (such as the ones listed above), you should be examined by your doctor. In most cases, gonorrhea can be detected with a urine test. However, if you have had oral and/or anal sex, a swab sample may be collected from your throat and/or rectum.

At Juna, our at-home kits include a Gonorrhea test. Book a free consultation to speak to a doctor through your insurance provider where we’ll provide steps to get you tested conveniently at the comfort of your home.

Can I be treated for gonorrhea?

Yes. Gonorrhea can be cured with the right treatment. For most adults with gonorrhea, the infection is treated with antibiotics. Remember: it is important that you take all the medication prescribed by your doctor to cure the infection. While medication will stop the infection, permanent damage caused by the disease cannot be undone.

As drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing, it is becoming harder to treat some infections. If your symptoms persist for more than a few days after treatment, you should re-seek medical attention from your doctor. To avoid getting or spreading the infection after treatment, you and your partner(s) should abstain from sex and wait seven days after you have each completed treatment.