What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted diseases
(STD). It's also called GC, clap, or drip. It usually causes pain in your lower belly and a change in the color and smell of your vaginal discharge
. But many people have gonorrhea and don't even know it because they don't have any symptoms. Gonorrhea can lead to serious illness and can cause problems in your ability to have children later in life. back to top
How do you get gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria
that infect your reproductive system. You can catch it if you have any kind of sex with an infected person — oral
, vaginal, or anal. You don't have to have actual intercourse to catch gonorrhea. back to top
Can I get gonorrhea from a public toilet?
You might have heard a rumor that you can catch gonorrhea from swimming pools, towels, toilet seats, or water splashing on you from the toilet bowl. No need to worry. You can't get gonorrhea from any of those things. back to top
Who can get gonorrhea?
Anybody can get it, but the people who are more likely to get it are:
What can I do to avoid gonorrhea?
- people who have many sexual partners
- people who've had sexual intercourse for the first time at a young age back to top
You can lower your chances of getting gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases
by using a condom
. A condom prevents the bacteria in semen
from getting into your vagina and infecting you. But the best way to avoid getting gonorrhea or any sexually transmitted disease is to not have sex or intimate sexual contact at all. back to top
How do I know if I have gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea can show up in your body in a bunch of different ways. Here's what you might notice if you have it:
What should I do if I think I have gonorrhea?
- Abnormal vaginal discharge. Since gonorrhea infects the cervix, you may notice blood coming from your vagina (that's not your period ) or a change in the smell or color of your regular vaginal discharge.
- Pain or irritation when you pee. Gonorrhea can also affect the urethra, the tube that leads from the bladder to the outside. An infected urethra can cause you to have pain when you pee. You may also feel like you have to pee often, or you might get a strong urge to pee but not much comes out.
- Irregular periods. Gonorrhea can cause your periods to stop coming regularly every month. If you suddenly begin having irregular periods after they've been regular for a while, you may have gonorrhea.
- Pain in the lower part of your belly. Gonorrhea can spread from the cervix to the rest of your reproductive system, through the uterus to the fallopian tubes and ovaries. When it spreads, it becomes a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID usually causes lower belly pain and fever.
- Pain in the upper right part of your belly. Gonorrhea can infect your liver. This is called Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome, and causes nausea, fever, and pain in the upper right part of your belly over your liver.
- Sore throat. Gonorrhea can be spread to the mouth by oral sex.
- Rectal pain. Gonorrhea can spread to the rectum either by anal sex or because the discharge from your vagina infects the tissues of your rectum. If your rectum gets infected, you can feel pain, start bleeding, and get constipated.
- Fever. Both PID and Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome can cause fever. In addition, gonorrhea can cause disease throughout the whole body, which will show up as fever, rash, and joint pain. back to top
Remember, you can have gonorrhea without knowing it. You may have very mild symptoms or none at all. If you think you might have caught gonorrhea from someone, make an appointment with your health professional to get tested. A test called a cervical culture
will tell your health professional if you have gonorrhea. This test is done during a pelvic exam
During the exam, your health professional will take a sample of your vaginal discharge
. The lab will test it to see if you have gonorrhea. It should take about 24 to 48 hours after your visit to find out. Your health professional will call you or write you a letter to tell you the results of the test.
Sometimes your health professional can tell if you have gonorrhea just by looking at a sample of your vaginal discharge under the microscope. It may be possible to see the gonorrhea bacteria inside the white blood cells in your vaginal discharge. If there are gonorrhea bacteria, your doctor will tell you right then and give you some medicine to start fighting the infection. back to top
How do I get rid of gonorrhea?
If you have gonorrhea, you take antibiotics
to cure it. In most cases, you can be cured with one dose of antibiotics taken in a pill or a shot. You should also be treated chlamydia
. That's because many girls who have gonorrhea also have chlamydia, another sexually transmitted diseases
. If you also have chlamydia, you will need two separate drugs because the medicine used to treat gonorrhea doesn't work on chlamydia.
If you have a more serious case of gonorrhea, such as PID
, you may have to go to the hospital for a few days. In the hospital, you will be given antibiotics through an IV
to help clear up the infection. back to top
How do I know if the medicine is working?
A week after you finish taking the medicine, you should go back to your health professional for another test, which will prove that you've been cured by the antibiotics. back to top
Should my boyfriend be treated for gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease, so if you have it, it is very likely that your boyfriend also has it. He should see his health professional to get tested and treated. If you've had sex or any kind of intimate sexual contact
with more than one person, you should tell everyone you were with so they all can get treated. back to top
Can I have sex while I'm taking the medicine for gonorrhea?
You're cured of gonorrhea after one dose of antibiotics, but you shouldn't have sex with your boyfriend or anyone else until you've had follow-up tests to prove it. Otherwise, you may just give the disease back to your boyfriend or he could give it back to you. back to top
What if I have gonorrhea, but I don't do anything about it?
If you have gonorrhea and you don't get help for it, you could develop pelvic inflammatory disease
(PID). PID is an infection of part of your reproductive system. The infection starts in the cervix, and travels through the uterus
to the fallopian tubes
and the ovaries
. PID can scar your reproductive organs, which can affect your ability to have children later in life. A person who has PID can usually be cured with antibiotics, but sometimes it's very serious and requires a hospital stay. back to top
Who should I talk to if I think I have gonorrhea?
You should call your health professional whenever you have vaginal discharge that looks or smells funny or if you have pain in your lower belly. Remember to have a pelvic exam once a year, especially if you're sexually active. During the pelvic exam
, your health professional will do a test to check for gonorrhea. back to top