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What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea, or gonococcal urethritis, is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. It is spread by unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Gonorrhea causes inflammation of the urethra. The urethra is the tube where urine passes from the bladder to the outside of the body. Anyone with multiple sexual partners is at higher risk for gonorrhea.

What are the signs and symptoms of gonorrhea?

  • Feeling like you need to urinate more frequently than usual
  • Pain or burning when you urinate
  • Pain in your lower abdomen, penis, or vaginal area
  • Pain when you have sex
  • Thick, yellow-green discharge coming from your penis or vagina
  • Fever

How is gonorrhea diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your health and sexual history. He will need to know when your symptoms started. Tell him about any STIs you or your partners may have. Caregivers may need to do a pelvic exam to check your vagina and internal sex organs. Your healthcare provider may think it is important for you to have any of the following screening tests, even if you do not have symptoms:

  • Blood or urine tests may show the bacteria that causes gonorrhea.
  • A sample of discharge may be examined to help healthcare providers learn what is causing your condition.

How is gonorrhea treated?

Antibiotics help treat the infection caused by bacteria. Both you and your sexual partner have to be treated to prevent gonorrhea from spreading.

How can I prevent the spread of gonorrhea?

  • Use a condom during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Ask for more information about the correct way to use condoms.
  • Do not have sex with someone who has gonorrhea. This includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
  • Do not have sex while you or your partner are being treated for gonorrhea. Ask when it is safe to have sex.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant. Gonorrhea can be passed to an infant during birth.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing.
  • You have pain and swelling in your scrotum.
  • You have pain in your abdomen or joints.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.