Gonorrhea is an infection caused by bacteria that live and grow in moist areas such as the penis, vagina, eyes, mouth, throat or anus. Gonorrhea is spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone that has gonorrhea. A mother can also pass it to her baby during childbirth.
What are the signs and symptoms? What can happen?
Some people never have any symptoms. Sometimes signs are burning or pain when urinating or defecating (pooping), a yellow, gray or greenish colored or bloody discharge from the penis or vagina, pain or swelling of testicles or stomach or back pain. Females may experience abnormal periods or bleeding between periods. Symptoms may show up 2-21 days after having unprotected sex.
Untreated gonorrhea can cause infertility (not being able to have children) or lead to a serious infection that can spread to the skin, heart, blood and joints of your body.
Is there a cure? How is it treated?
Yes, gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. It is important to follow instructions from your healthcare provider about treatment. Don’t have sex until all partners have finished the medication.
If you test positive for gonorrhea, get tested again three (3) months later to make sure you don’t have it again. If you’re sexually active and under 25, you should get tested for gonorrhea every year.
How can you prevent it?
The only method that is 100% effective in preventing STDs is abstinence, but if you’re sexually active, the best way to avoid gonorrhea is to use a latex condom correctly every time you have sex.
Latex condoms give good protection against gonorrhea during vaginal, anal and oral sex on a penis. For protection during oral sex on a vagina, you can use a dental dam – a thin square of latex – between the mouth and the vulva.