What is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium
Neisseria Gonorrhoeae. This bacterium grows and multiplies easily
in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the
cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes in women, and in the urethra in
both women and men. Gonorrhea is a very common infectious disease.
The CDC estimates that more than 800,000 persons in the United
States get new Gonorrhea infection each year.
What are Symptoms?
If symptoms occur, they usually appear two to five days after
infection, but can take as long as 30 days to appear. Most women
who are infected with gonorrhea have no symptoms. When symptoms do
occur, they include a painful or burning sensation when urinating,
increased vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse and/or vaginal
bleeding between periods.
Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. If a man does
have symptoms, they may include a burning sensation when urinating,
a white or yellow discharge from the penis, or itching and redness
at the tip of the penis. Rarely, men with gonorrhea get painful or
Complications of Untreated Infection
In women, an untreated infection can spread into the uterus or
fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). It can
cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and
surrounding tissues. The damage can lead to chronic pelvic pain,
infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy
outside the uterus).
In pregnant women, the infection may be given to the baby when
passing through the birth canal during delivery. This can cause
blindness, joint infection, or a life-threatening blood infection
in the baby.
In men, gonorrhea can cause Epididymitis, a painful condition of
the ducts attached to the testicles that can lead to
Rarely, untreated gonorrhea can spread through the blood to the
joints in both men and women. This can cause an inflammation of the
joints which is very serious. In addition, individuals with
gonorrhea can more easily contract HIV if exposed.
How is gonorrhea transmitted?
Gonorrhea is spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth,
or anus. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhea to be
transmitted or acquired. Gonorrhea can also be spread from mother
to baby during delivery.
People who have had gonorrhea and received treatment may get
infected again if they have sexual contact with a person infected
The Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) is a simple urine test
used to detect the gonorrhea bacterium. The urine test has been
proven to be more accurate than the swab, which requires a pelvic
exam for women and a urethral swab for men. The urine test is also
painless and non-invasive, unlike the swab. First morning urine is
recommended for this test, but the specimen is acceptable if the
patient has not urinated for at least 1½ to 2 hours before it is
collected. It is very important that first void urine (the first
part of the urine stream) be collected for the specimen. It is
recommended that the test be taken at least 5 to 7 days after a
contact of concern, although many individuals with gonorrhea will
have positive results within 3 or 4 days of infection.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can be cured with
antibiotics. Several different antibiotics can be prescribed, such
as, suprax, rocephin, ofloxacin, cefixine, ceftriaxone,
tetracycline, ciprofloxacin(cipro), penicillin. Upon beginning
antibiotics, the infection is usually cured in about 10 to 14 days.
It is always a good idea to repeat the gonorrhea test in order to
ensure the infection has in fact been cured.
Is there a cure for gonorrhea?
Yes. Gonorrhea is easily cured with antibiotics, and if caught
early, it is usually cured with a single dose. If untreated,
gonorrhea can cause serious health issues in both men and
Should I repeat testing after I have taken my full dose
of antibiotics just to be sure I'm cured?
It is a good idea to take a second test after the antibiotics have
been taken entirely. If for any reason the bacterium remains in the
body after treatment, you will be susceptible to the damage it can
do and you can also transmit gonorrhea to others.
If I am positive for gonorrhea, does my partner need to
Yes. You must make sure your partner is tested and treated
appropriately. In fact, if you have gonorrhea, talk with all of
your sexual partners. They should get tested and treated for
gonorrhea, even if they don't have any symptoms. Also avoid sexual
contact until you and your partner(s) have been treated and
After I'm treated for gonorrhea and it is cured, can I
get it again?
Yes. Being treated for gonorrhea doesn't give you immunity to it.
You can always be re infected with gonorrhea if you are exposed