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Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that is transmitted sexually. Many women and some men who have gonorrhea don't have any signs or symptoms. If not treated, gonorrhea can cause a painful penile, vaginal, or rectal discharge. It can sometimes lead to swollen and painful joints or lifelong (permanent) damage to your reproductive organs. And in some cases it can make a man or woman unable to have children (infertile). If a pregnant woman has gonorrhea, she can infect her baby during childbirth.

Woman in exam room talking to healthcare provider.

Gonorrhea is also called the clap or the drip.

Symptoms

In men:

  • Pain or burning when urinating

  • Watery, milky, or yellow discharge from the penis or anus

In women:

  • Yellow or white discharge from the vagina or anus

  • Bleeding between periods

Treatment

Gonorrhea can be cured quickly with antibiotics. If you are being treated, your partner should also be checked by a healthcare provider. Don’t have sex while you are being treated and for a week after.

Prevention

As with all sexually transmitted infections (STIs), knowing your partner’s sexual history is important. It's a key step in preventing gonorrhea. Also know the signs and symptoms of the infection. And use latex condoms to reduce your risk.

Resources

American Sexual Health Association STD Hotline, 919-361-8488, www.ashasexualhealth.org

CDC, 800-232-4636, www.cdc.gov/std

Online Medical Reviewer: Barry Zingman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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