Gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae)

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. If left untreated, it may lead to serious long-term health problems.

You can catch it by having sexual contact with someone who is infected, even if they do not have symptoms.


People who are infected with gonorrhoea may not show any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear two to seven days after exposure. Symptoms may include a burning sensation when urinating (peeing), increased vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding between periods, lower abdominal pain, painful sex, itching around the opening of the penis, abnormal discharge from the penis, or painful or swollen testicles.

Pregnant people can pass on the infection to their baby during childbirth. This can cause eye infection or sepsis in the baby.


Gonorrhea is transmitted during anal, oral, or vaginal sex. Anyone who is sexually active can be infected with gonorrhea. The risk of infection increases with the number of sexual partners. Infection can also spread to the eyes by touching an infected area and then touching the eye.

People treated for gonorrhea can get the infection again if they have sexual contact with someone who is infected.


Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. However, drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing so the disease is becoming more difficult to treat. Treatment will stop the infection, but it will not heal any permanent injury done by the disease. Once diagnosed, all sexual partners should be evaluated, tested and treated.

  • The risk of becoming infected with gonorrhea can be reduced by practicing safer sex (e.g., using condoms/barrier methods correctly and consistently).
  • Get tested regularly if you are sexually active, especially if you have new sexual partner(s).
  • If an infection is suspected, people should not have sex until all partners are tested and treated.
  • Tell your sexual partner(s) if you have an STBBI, so they can be tested and treated. This will help reduce the spread of disease.

Talk with a doctor or health care provider about your risk for Gonorrhea. Have an open and honest conversation about your sexual history and testing for STIs. Your doctor can give you the best advice on any testing and treatment that you may need.

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