Gonorrhea

Know the Risk

Having sex is a big responsibility. Any time you have sex you are at risk for getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The more you know about STDs, the better you can protect yourself.

Click on the links below to learn detailed facts about STDs and how to keep yourself healthy.

Gonorrhea (gon-or-e-uh) is a disease you get from sex called a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
Gonorrhea is caused by germs called bacteria.
Some people call it "the clap" or "the drip."
Most of the time there are no symptoms!
Symptoms in men include a discharge from the penis and the need to pee a lot.
Symptoms in women may be a discharge from the vagina.
Gonorrhea can be treated and cured with medicine called antibiotics.

What is it?

Gonorrhea (gon-or-e-uh) is a sexually transmitted disease caused by germs called bacteria. It can be treated and cured by antibiotic pills. It can be spread from person to person, male or female, during vaginal, anal and oral sex. Infections can be in the throat, vagina, urethra (inside the penis) or anus. Studies have found that youth are at the highest risk for getting gonorrhea. Everyone under 25 should be screened.

How will I feel?

If males or females become infected with gonorrhea in the throat, there are usually no symptoms, except for maybe a sore throat. Boys who are infected with gonorrhea usually develop symptoms within two to five days of having sex with someone who has an infection. It could take up as long as 30 days (a month). Symptoms in males include discharge (mucous or liquid) from the urethra (pee hole), pain or itching of the head of the penis, swelling of the penis or testicles (balls), pain and/or burning when peeing, frequent urination, anal or rectal itching. Untreated gonorrhea in males can develop into epididymitis. This is a PAINFUL infection of the testicles (balls), as well as inflammation of the prostate, and urethral scarring (scarring inside the penis). It can also damage the man so he can't have kids.

Most of the time, girls do not see or feel any symptoms of gonorrhea once they are infected. For those who do, they usually appear within 10 days of sexual contact. Symptoms in females include discharge from the vagina; pain in your lower belly, especially during or after sex; unusual bleeding with cramping; pain or burning with urination (peeing).

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a common result of untreated gonorrhea in girls. In PID, the germ can move through the reproductive system from the vagina and into the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. The germ can create blockages and scarring in these sites and increase the risk of "tubal pregnancies". These are pregnancies which can lead to death of the baby and/or the mother. This requires immediate medical treatment. Not receiving treatment for gonorrhea can also cause problems with your period, urinary tract infections, miscarriage and discharge from the cervix. These are all very uncomfortable. It's better to get treated so you do not have to deal with them.

In 1 out of 100 people with untreated gonorrhea, the infection can spread to other parts of the body including the bloodstream, skin, heart or joints. This condition is called Disseminated Gonococcal Infection (DGI). Symptoms of DGI include fever, wounds on the skin, arthritis, infection of the inner lining of the heart, and meningitis (an infection that attacks the brain and spinal cord). This can damage these areas of the body. DGI can be treated with antibiotic pills. It can be avoided completely by getting treatment for gonorrhea immediately after receiving a positive test result.

If you test positive for gonorrhea, you are at a greater risk for getting HIV.

To maintain your sexual health and the sexual health of the Philadelphia community, it is very important to have your sex partner(s) examined and treated for gonorrhea. Otherwise they can give the infection back to you and/or infect others. A positive gonorrhea test can also increase your chances of getting or spreading HIV to sex partners.

Not having sex is the only way to be sure you will not get infected with gonorrhea. If you are having sex, use condoms correctly every time to make sure you stay STD free. Just remember, the more sex partners you have, the greater the chance you will get gonorrhea! Get STD check-ups every three to six months (that means at least twice a year, up to four times a year) to make sure infections like gonorrhea are caught early and treated fast.