Who can get gonorrhea?

Anyone who is sexually active can get gonorrhea.

What exactly is gonorrhea?

It is a common infection especially between the ages of 15 to 24 and can infect both men and women. It causes severe infections to;

  • Throat
  • Rectum
  • Genitals

How is gonorrhea spread?

You can become infected by having unprotected sexual contact with someone who is infected. An infected pregnant woman can pass it to her baby during childbirth. 

Am I at risk?

If you are sexually active and have unprotected sex you are at risk of catching gonorrhea.

Symptoms

Male symptoms

  • Painful urination
  • A discharge from the penis that may be white, yellow, or green in color
  • Sore swollen testicles

Some men will not have any symptoms at all

Female symptoms

Females may have no symptoms at all but if they do they can be confused for a vaginal infection or bladder infection as they have many of the same symptoms

  • Urination that stings or burns
  • Itching of the vaginal area
  • Lower back or abdominal pain
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding between monthly menstrual cycles

Rectal symptoms for both male and female

  • Itching of the anus 
  • Discharge
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Bleeding from the anus
  • Soreness

You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms in or you find unusual sores, smelly discharge, in your partner or they have painful burning urination.

How am I tested by the doctor?

Generally your urine can be tested unless you have had oral and/or anal sex in which case a swab will be taken of your throat and/or rectum. In some cases a swab will be used on the males urethra or a females cervix to collect a sample to be tested.

Treatment

Since gonorrhea has been becoming increasingly drug resistant the CDC recommends that uncomplicated cases be treated with ceftriaxone (an injection) and either azithromycin or doxycycline. Following this course of treatment as prescribed by your doctor will cure you but it cannot undo any permanent damage that was caused by gonorrhea. Finish all the medication, do not share with anyone.

Wait to have sex after the medication is gone for another 7 days. If both you and your partner(s) are being treated wait for 7 days after both of you have finished the medication. This will keep you from re-infecting each other. 

What if I don’t get treated?

If not treated, gonorrhea can cause severe and permanent health problems in both males and females. 

In females untreated gonorrhea can lead to PID which causes

  • Scar tissue that blocks the fallopian tubes
  • Tubal pregnancies
  • Infertility
  • Long term pelvic/abdominal pain

In males gonorrhea that is not treated can cause problems in the tubes that transport sperm that is painful. It can also cause a male to become sterile. 

While it is very rare it can happen that gonorrhea can spread to the joints and blood which can be life threatening. 

It is always best to get treated and precisely follow the treatment plan your doctor has prescribed for you.