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Gonorrhea is a type of bacterial infection transmitted through oral, anal, or vaginal sex with someone who is infected. Symptoms vary in men and women, but tend to include some type of discharge and pain. The infection is generally treated with a course of antibiotics. If left untreated, the bacteria can spread into the reproductive tract or, in rare cases, into the bloodstream and infect the joints, heart valves, or brain.
What Is Gonorrhea?Gonorrhea is a curable sexually transmitted disease (STD). People can get it by having oral, anal, or vaginal sex with someone who has the infection.
What Causes It?Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae that can grow in warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, like the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes in women, as well as in the urethra in both men and women. The bacteria can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus in men and women.
How Is Gonorrhea Spread?Gonorrhea transmission can occur through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. It can also be spread from mother to baby during a vaginal delivery. It is important to note that any sexually active person can be infected with gonorrhea. In the United States, the highest reported rates of infection are among sexually active teenagers, young adults, and African Americans.
(Click Gonorrhea Transmission for more information.)
In most cases, men will have signs and symptoms of gonorrhea more often than women. Symptoms in men may include:
- White, yellow, or green pus from the penis with pain
- Burning sensations during urination
- Swollen testicles.
Symptoms in women may include:
- Bleeding associated with vaginal intercourse
- Painful or burning sensations when urinating
- Yellow or bloody vaginal discharge.
For women, early symptoms of gonorrhea are often mild.
(Click Gonorrhea Symptoms for more information.)