Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that spreads through vaginal, anal and oral sex.

If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause severe pain, infertility (inability to have children) and painful or swollen testicles. It can increase the risk of having a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy. Having gonorrhea also makes it more likely to get or spread HIV.


Condoms and dental dams can prevent the spread of gonorrhea. Having multiple partners increases your risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including gonorrhea.

Taking the medication doxycycline after sex can prevent STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Taking doxycycline to prevent STIs is called Doxy PEP. Doxy PEP works best within 24 hours of sex.


Most people with gonorrhea do not have symptoms. If symptoms occur, they can include:

  • Discharge from the vagina that is different than usual
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Yellow or green discharge (drip) from the penis
  • Pain or bleeding during or after sex
  • Pain during urination
  • Constipation
  • Rectal pain, bleeding or discharge


Depending on the kinds of sex you have, your health care provider may test samples from your urine, cervix, penis, rectum or throat. Be honest with your doctor about the kinds of sex you have.


An injection of antibiotics is the recommended treatment for gonorrhea. The full treatment is needed to clear the infection.

You should be retested after three to four months to make sure that you did not get infected again. Your provider may recommend that you get retested sooner than three months.

Sex Partners

Your sex partner(s) also need to be treated so they do not develop serious health problems, re-infect you or pass the infection on to others. Talk to your sex partners from the previous two months about your infection so that they can be tested and treated.

Gonorrhea in Pregnancy

All pregnant people should be tested for gonorrhea and other STIs, including HIV, as early as possible in pregnancy. Gonorrhea can cause miscarriage and premature labor. It can also cause eye infections in a newborn baby.

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