On This Page: Overview | Gonorrhea Symptoms | Causes | Risk Factors | Prevention
Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is very common and easily cured with prescription antibiotics. It is spread through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. There are an estimated 820,000 cases of gonorrhea in the U.S. each year. Many people with gonorrhea are unaware they have it because they often have mild or no symptoms.1
Gonorrhea is often called “the drip” or “the clap” and is especially common in young people in their teens and twenties. It is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which infects the mucous membranes of the reproductive system including the cervix, fallopian tubes, uterus in women, and the urethra in both men and women. Gonorrhea can infect the penis, vagina, anus, throat, and (more rarely) eyes. If you don’t treat it, gonorrhea can lead to serious health problems or even infertility, which is why regular STD testing is important even if you feel healthy.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that affects people’s reproductive systems, such as the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and urethra in women, and the urethra in men. It can also infect the throat and anus through oral or anal sex. Gonorrhea is spread through sexual contact with an infected person and can lead to serious health problems if not treated promptly.
Untreated gonorrhea can lead to infertility in both men and women and make you more susceptible to contracting additional STDs. Gonorrhea is an STD that is easily cured with antibiotics. Order quick and confidential testing today.
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Many men and most women with gonorrhea have no symptoms at all.
Symptoms in men include:
Symptoms in women include:
In both men and women, rectal infections can cause no symptoms or cause symptoms such as anal discharge, soreness, bleeding, or itching, or painful bowel movements.
Read more link about gonorrhea symptoms and complications.
Gonorrhea can be transmitted during oral, vaginal, and anal sex through the semen, pre-cum, or vaginal fluids of an infected partner; even if there is no ejaculation.
Gonorrhea can also be spread from mother to baby during childbirth. A baby that contracts gonorrhea during childbirth may suffer blindness, joint infection, or a life-threatening blood infection. The CDC advises pregnant women to get tested and treated as necessary to prevent passing gonorrhea to the baby.
Anyone who is sexually active can get gonorrhea, especially if they are having unprotected sex. That being said, certain groups of people have biological and behavioral factors that put them at higher risk. According to the CDC, sexually active teenagers, young adults, and African Americans have the highest reported rates of infection.
The CDC recommends at least yearly gonorrhea screening for:2
Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that affects millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea each year. The incidence of gonorrhea varies by region, with higher rates of infection reported in some countries and lower rates in others.
In the United States, gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported bacterial STI, with an estimated 635,000 new infections occurring each year. However, this number is likely an underestimate, as many people with gonorrhea do not show symptoms and therefore do not get tested and treated.
It is important to note that the incidence of gonorrhea can increase or decrease based on a variety of factors, including access to sexual health education and resources, cultural attitudes towards STIs and sexual health, and the effectiveness of public health efforts to prevent the spread of STIs.
Not having vaginal, anal, or oral sex is the best way to avoid gonorrhea. That being said, if you are sexually active, safer sex with consistent use of protection like latex or polyurethane condoms and dental dams helps lower (though not eliminate) the risk of getting an STD.
Being mutually monogamous with a long-term partner who has tested negative can also help prevent infection. Having open conversations about sexual health and getting regularly tested with your partner(s) can help confirm your status and protect your health. We hope this helps answer the question “what is gonorrhea” and how it works.
Medically Reviewed by William Terranova, MD on February 1, 2023Written by Taysha on January 22, 2020