What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a disease caused by bacteria called Neiserria gonorrhoeae, the gonococcus. The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are found in the mucous areas of the body (the vagina, penis, throat and rectum) and in semen or vaginal fluids. It is one of the most commonly reported sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in the United States.

Who gets gonorrhea?

Any person who has sex can be infected with gonorrhea. Most often, gonorrhea is found in younger people (ages 15-30) who have multiple sex partners. Gonorrhea is reported more frequently from urban areas than from rural areas.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

Most men infected with gonorrhea will have burning while urinating and a yellowish white discharge from the penis. Most women do not have symptoms. Those few women with symptoms will have a discharge from the vagina and possibly some burning while urinating. Women may also have abdominal pain or abnormal bleeding. Infections in the throat and rectum cause few symptoms.

How soon do symptoms appear?

Symptoms may be noticed 2 to 7 days after having sex with an infected person, but it can take as long as 30 days and often, there may be no symptoms, particularly in females.

How is gonorrhea diagnosed?

Gonorrhea is diagnosed through laboratory examination of penile or vaginal discharges to see if bacteria are present. Specimens from the throat may also be examined.

How is gonorrhea spread?

Gonorrhea is spread through sexual contact. This includes penis to vagina, penis to mouth, penis to rectum and mouth to vagina contact. Gonorrhea can also be spread from mother to child during birth.

What is the treatment for gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics in either injection (needle) or pill (by mouth) form. All strains of gonorrhea are curable, but this disease is becoming more and more resistant to many standard medications.