Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is diagnosed and treated by Premier Medical Group.

What is gonorrhea?

Back to top

Known colloquially as the “clap,” gonorrhea is transferred via bodily fluid. It is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that can occur in any of the sexes. The bacteria most often affects the urethra, rectum, and/or throat, but it can also infect the female cervix. The bacteria grow and multiply easily in moist, warm areas, which means it is important to begin an antibiotic regimen as soon as a diagnosis is confirmed.

If a pregnant parent vaginally births a child while infected with gonorrhea, the baby may be infected during childbirth. In babies, gonorrhea most commonly affects the eyes.

What causes gonorrhea?

Back to top

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This bacterium is most often passed between people during sexual contact, which can include oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse. Additionally, several factors may increase your risk of contracting gonorrhea. This can include a new sex partner, multiple sex partners, a previous gonorrhea diagnosis, and having other sexually transmitted infections. If you have experienced any of these, it is important to get tested regularly for STDs, generally every three to six months.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

Back to top

In many cases, people with gonorrhea will not experience symptoms, meaning most do not know they are infected. When symptoms are present, a gonorrhea infection can cause a variety of discomforts. If the genitals are infected, these symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Painful urination
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Pus-like discharge from the penis
  • Painful intercourse
  • Abdominal and/or pelvic pain
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods

While gonorrhea is most commonly experienced in sex organs, the bacteria can affect a variety of other parts of the body. In rectal gonorrhea, symptoms include itching, pus-like discharge, bowel straining, and spots of red blood. Threat gonorrhea may appear as a sore throat and/or swollen lymph nodes, and gonorrhea in the eyes can cause pain, sensitivity to light, and a pus-like discharge.

How is gonorrhea diagnosed?

Back to top

A gonorrhea diagnosis can only be provided by a doctor. Most of the time, urine is used to test for the bacteria, but if you have had oral and/or anal sex, swabs may be used to collect samples from the throat and/or rectum. In some cases, a swab may be used to collect cells from a male urethra or a female cervix.

Back to top

Gonorrhea is treated with oral or injectable antibiotics, which must be prescribed by a doctor. Some strains of gonorrhea are harder to treat, so a doctor may prescribe two antibiotics in both shot and pill form. Not all treatments will look the same; some consist of just a single pill, while others require a daily pill for up to 7 days. This will depend on the course of treatment determined by the doctor.

 

To prevent reinfection and further spread of the bacteria, your sexual partner should also undergo treatment, ideally at the same time. Those in treatment for gonorrhea should refrain from sex until the antibiotics course is finished. When resuming sexual activity, use a latex condom. If symptoms, like pelvic pain, persist after one week, schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor. Get tested again in three months to ensure the infection is gone.

When to see a doctor for gonorrhea?

Back to top

Untreated gonorrhea can lead to significant complications, including infertility, a spreading infection, long-term abdominal pain, and an increased risk of HIV/AIDS. If you suspect you have gonorrhea, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible, as only they will be able to provide a diagnosis. Even if you do not suspect gonorrhea, it is important to have regular STD tests. Those with gonorrhea do not often experience symptoms, so regular testing is often the only way to catch the bacteria.

If you are experiencing symptoms but are unsure if gonorrhea is the cause, a doctor is the only person able to provide a diagnosis. Genital pain and discomfort can be a range of various STDs, but standard observation is not often enough to determine the cause. Still, if you think you might have a different STD, see our main page for more information about sexually transmitted diseases.