Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.
What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. Gonorrhea is spread during oral, vaginal, or anal sex. The infection most often affects the urethra, rectum, or throat. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body. Anyone with multiple sex partners is at higher risk for gonorrhea.
What are the signs and symptoms of gonorrhea?
- Feeling like you need to urinate more often than usual
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Pain in your lower abdomen, penis, or vagina
- Pain when you have sex
- Thick, yellow-green discharge coming from your penis, rectum, or vagina
- Sore throat or swollen lymph nodes in your neck
How is gonorrhea diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your health and sexual history. He or she will need to know when your symptoms started. Tell your provider about any STIs you or your partner may have. You may need any of the following:
- Blood or urine tests may show the bacteria that causes gonorrhea.
- A sample of discharge may help providers know what treatment is best for you.
How is gonorrhea treated?
Antibiotics help treat the infection caused by bacteria. Both you and your sex partner need treatment to prevent gonorrhea from spreading.
The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.
How can I prevent the spread of gonorrhea and other STIs?
Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the following safe sex practices:
- Use a male or female condom during sex. This includes oral, genital, or anal sex. Use a new condom each time. Condoms help prevent pregnancy and STIs. Use latex condoms, if possible. Lambskin (also called sheepskin or natural membrane) condoms do not protect against STIs. A polyurethane condom can be used if you or your partner is allergic to latex. Condoms should be used with a second form of birth control to help prevent pregnancy and STIs. Do not use male and female condoms together. Ask for more information about the correct way to use condoms.
- Limit your number of sex partners. This will help lower your risk for gonorrhea and other STIs.
- Get tested for STIs regularly if you are sexually active. You should get tested 1 time a year, or after new sexual partners. Get tested if you have sex without a condom. This includes oral, genital, or anal sex.
- Do not have sex with someone who has an STI. This includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
- Do not have sex while you or your partner are being treated. Ask when it is safe to have sex.
- Ask about medicines to lower your risk for some STIs:
- Vaccines can help protect you from hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and the human papillomavirus (HPV). The HPV vaccine is usually given at 11 years, but it may be given through 26 years to both females and males. Your provider can give you more information on vaccines to prevent STIs.
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) may be given if you are at high risk for HIV. PrEP is taken every day to prevent the virus from fully infecting the body.
- If you are a woman:
- Do not douche. Douching upsets the normal balance of bacteria found in your vagina. It does not prevent or clear up vaginal infections.
- Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant. Gonorrhea can be passed to an infant during birth.
When should I call my doctor?
- You have pain and swelling in your scrotum.
- You have pain in your abdomen or joints.
- You have a fever.
- You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers 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.
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