Gonorrhea – Frequently Asked Questions
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is caused by a germ that grows easily in warm, moist areas, such as:
- Reproductive tract: cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women
- Urethra (urine canal) in women and men
Gonorrhea is a very common infectious disease. In the United States, about 700,000 people are infected with gonorrhea each year.
Gonorrhea is spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth or anus. Ejaculation does not have to occur to get or give gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during delivery.
Having gonorrhea does not mean a person can’t get gonorrhea again.
Anyone who has sex can get gonorrhea. In the United States, the highest reported rates of infection are among teenagers, young adults and African Americans.
Many people with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms at all. In women, the symptoms of gonorrhea are often mild and are sometimes mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection.
For more detailed information on gonorrhea symptoms, visit the Symptoms and Treatment webpage.
Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men.
For more information on the health problems caused by gonorrhea, visit the Symptoms and Treatment webpage.
If a pregnant woman has gonorrhea, she may give the infection to her baby during a vaginal delivery. This can cause blindness, joint infection or a life-threatening blood infection in the baby.
Treatment of gonorrhea as soon as it is detected in pregnant women will lower the risk of these problems. Pregnant women should see a doctor for examination, testing and treatment, if needed.
Several laboratory tests are used to diagnose gonorrhea. Some can be performed on urine; other tests require a sample be collected from a site such as the cervix, urethra, rectum or throat.
More information is available on the Symptoms and Treatment webpage.
Several antibiotics can cure gonorrhea. However, drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing and successful treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more difficult.
More information on treating gonorrhea is available on the Symptoms and Treatment webpage.
The best way to avoid spreading STDs is to not have sex, or to have sex with only one partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected. If used correctly every time, latex male condoms can reduce the risk of spreading of gonorrhea.
To learn more about preventing gonorrhea, visit the Prevention webpage.
Updated on: August 3, 2018