Gonorrhea

What is it?

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can cause pain, burning, or itching in the penis, vagina, or anus. It can also cause unusual liquids called discharge to come out of the penis, vagina, or anus.

How can you get it?

You can get it through oral, vaginal, or anal sex with a partner who has gonorrhea. The infection is transmitted when your mouth, vagina, or anus comes into contact with your partner’s sexual fluids. Sexual fluids include ejaculate, vaginal fluid, and anal fluid.

How do you know if you have it?

Many people with gonorrhea do not have symptoms. This is especially true if the infection is in the mouth, vagina, or anus. If you do have symptoms, they may include:

  • New or unusual discharge from the vagina, penis, or anus
  • A burning feeling when peeing
  • Pain in your lower abdomen
  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding from the vagina or anus after sex

How is it treated?

Antibiotics cure the infection completely. If you are prescribed antibiotics, be sure to take the medication as directed by your healthcare provider and finish all the pills in the bottle.

How can you prevent it?

You can reduce your risk of getting gonorrhea by using barriers such as condoms and dental dams during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. You can also choose to engage in sexual activity that does not pose a high risk for gonorrhea transmission such as giving or receiving a massage, mutual masturbation, or sharing a sexual fantasy. You can also ensure that you and your partner have been tested and do not have it before engaging in sexual activity.

How are you tested?

Testing for gonorrhea usually involves peeing in a cup. Your urine will be sent to a lab for testing. If you have symptoms such as unusual discharge, your healthcare provider may also take a swab using a long q-tip or tiny brush. Most tests give accurate results 7 days after the sex act that may have exposed you to gonorrhea.

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