What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea in teens: Overview

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that is spread through sexual contact. It's found most often in the genital area. But it can also infect other areas of your body, such as the rectum and the throat. It can spread from one partner to another during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Some people who have gonorrhea get symptoms within a few days after infection. But some people have no symptoms. Even if you don't have symptoms, you can still infect your sex partners.

Treatment is important. If gonorrhea isn't treated, it can spread to other parts of your body. It can lead to other problems such as a serious infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries (pelvic inflammatory disease). This can make it hard or impossible to get pregnant in the future. And if you're not treated, you will infect everyone you have sex with.

It's easy to get gonorrhea again. Condoms can help prevent infections. Not having sex is the best way to prevent any sexually transmitted infection.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection spread through sexual contact (sexually transmitted infection). It's found most often in the genital area. But it can also infect other areas of the body, such as the rectum or throat. Gonorrhea is sometimes called the clap, drip, or GC.

Some people with gonorrhea have symptoms within a few days after infection. It can cause a discharge from the vagina or penis. It can lead to an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries (pelvic inflammatory disease), which can be severe. Sometimes gonorrhea causes a type of arthritis. Some people have no symptoms.

Antibiotics can cure gonorrhea. All partners need to be treated to keep from passing the infection back and forth.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

Many people have no symptoms of gonorrhea. If there are symptoms, they can take several days to appear. Or it may take several weeks. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain when you urinate.
  • Abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina.

If it isn't treated, the infection can move into the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. This is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Symptoms can include lower belly pain, pain during sex, vaginal bleeding, and a fever.

You can spread gonorrhea even if you don't have symptoms. You're contagious until you've been treated.

How is gonorrhea treated?

Antibiotics are used to treat gonorrhea, for both you and any sex partners. If only one person takes the medicine, you may keep passing the infection back and forth. To make sure that the medicine works, you need to take all of the medicine as directed.

How is gonorrhea diagnosed?

To diagnose gonorrhea, your doctor will ask you questions about your past health and your sexual history, such as how many partners you have. Your doctor may also do a physical exam to look for signs of infection.

Urine or fluid from the infected area will be tested for gonorrhea. You may also be tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the same time.

As soon as you find out that you have gonorrhea, be sure to let your sex partner or partners know. Experts recommend that you tell everyone you've had sex with in the past 60 days. If you haven't had sex in the past 60 days, contact the last person you had sex with.

How can you care for yourself when you have gonorrhea?

Your doctor probably gave you an antibiotic shot. If you were prescribed antibiotics to take at home, take them as directed. Don't have sex with anyone while you're being treated. Make sure to tell your sex partner or partners that you have gonorrhea. They should get treated, even if they don't have symptoms.

What other health problems can be caused by gonorrhea?

If gonorrhea isn't treated, it can cause problems in the genital area, such as:

  • A serious infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries (pelvic inflammatory disease) or an abscess in or near the ovaries.
  • Infection of the tube behind each testicle that collects sperm (epididymis.)

Untreated gonorrhea can cause problems with a pregnancy and problems in the newborn. It can also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, and infertility.

Gonorrhea can spread to areas like the joints, skin, and heart. This is called disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI). It can cause serious problems such as:

  • Skin infection. (This is called cellulitis).
  • Inflammation of joints (arthritis). This most often affects the knees and hands.
  • Infection of the chambers and valves of the heart. (This is called endocarditis).
  • Infection of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord. (This is called meningitis).
  • Inflammation that spreads through the body (sepsis). This can be deadly.

What causes gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is caused by a type of bacteria. It can be spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you're pregnant and infected, you can pass it to your baby during delivery. Anyone who has gonorrhea can pass it on, even if they don't have symptoms.

What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is an infection that is spread through sexual contact. It most often infects the reproductive organs. Gonorrhea doesn't cause problems if you treat it right away. But if you don't treat it early, it can lead to serious problems.

Gonorrhea: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have sudden, severe pain in your belly or pelvis.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new belly or pelvic pain.
  • You have unusual vaginal bleeding.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a discharge from the vagina or penis.
  • You have new or increased burning or pain with urination, or you cannot urinate.
  • You have pain, swelling, or tenderness in the scrotum.
  • You have joint pain.
  • You have pus coming from your eyes.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You think you may have been exposed to another STI.
  • Your symptoms get worse or have not improved within 1 week after starting treatment.
  • You have any new symptoms, such as sores, bumps, rashes, blisters, or warts in the genital or anal area.
  • You have a new skin rash.

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