What is gonorrhea infection?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacteria spread during unprotected sex with an infected partner.
Who can get gonorrhea?
- Anyone can become infected, but your risk is increased if you have multiple sex partners or forget to use condoms regularly.
- Infection rates are higher in adolescents than in any other age group.
How do I know if I have gonorrhea infection?
- Symptoms for females can include vaginal discharge, burning with urination, irregular menstrual bleeding, lower belly pain, pain with sex, or painful infection of the glands in the skin surrounding the vagina.
- Symptoms for males can include discharge from the penis and burning with urination.
- Some people do not develop symptoms but are still infected and can spread the infection.
How can I be tested for gonorrhea?
- A common test for gonorrhea can be done with a sample of your urine. It looks for DNA from the bacteria.
- For females, this does not involve a pelvic exam.
- For males, this does not require using a swab in your penis.
- Another test that can be done involves placing a cotton swab inside your cervix (females) or penis (males) for a few seconds and then sending it to a lab to look for evidence of the bacteria.
How do you treat gonorrhea?
- Antibiotics will kill the bacteria and rid your body of the gonorrhea infection.
- If you are treated, you should make sure your partner gets treated too. Even if he or she is not the one who gave the infection to you, you may have passed it along to him or her without knowing it.
- Using condoms or other barrier contraceptives can help prevent the spread of gonorrhea.
What if I don't get treated for my gonorrhea infection?
- You may continue to have symptoms such as irregular bleeding and vaginal discharge.
- The infection can spread into the rest of your reproductive organs.
- For females, this includes your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. This is called pelvic inflammatory disease (or PID), and can be very painful, dangerous to your reproductive organs, and affect your chances of getting pregnant in the future.
- For males, this includes the epidydimis (the tubes next to the testicle — it's where your sperm is stored) and the urethra (the tube that carries your urine).
- Gonorrhea can also infect your throat (from oral sex) and your rectum (from anal sex).
- Having a gonorrhea infection increases your chances of getting other STDs, including HIV infection.
- Women can spread gonorrhea to their newborn babies, causing serious infections in the baby.
To learn about appointment times and locations with CHOP's Division of Adolescent Medicine, see appointments or call 215-590-3537.