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 cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. 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 then 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. The infection can pass from a pregnant woman to her baby during birth. Gonorrhea can cause eye infections in the baby.
Many people have 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, since many people who have gonorrhea also have chlamydia. If only the cervix is infected, proper treatment should clear up the infection in about 10 days.
If the infection has spread to your uterus and ovaries, you may need medicine given through an IV. Depending on how sick you are, you may need to stay in the hospital. Gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which in turn can cause:
Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are or may be pregnant. Your provider will prescribe an antibiotic that is safe for the baby.
You will be asked about your sexual partner(s). Your infection will be reported to the local health department and your sexual partner(s) 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 new infections.
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. 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 antibiotics no longer work to kill gonorrhea. Prevention is very important.