The Facts About Gonorrhea

What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea infection is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In 2020, about half of all reported infections were estimated to be resistant to at least one antibiotic, making it even more important to encourage testing and treatment of the disease.

How common is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea infection is the second most frequently reported STI in the United States. During 2019-2020, the rate of reported gonorrhea cases increased 5.7%, but has increased 111% since the historic low in 2009! The rate of reported gonorrhea cases was higher in males than the rate among females. Rates increased more among women (15%) compared to men (6.6%).

How is gonorrhea spread?

Gonorrhea infection can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can also be spread from an infected mother to her baby during delivery.

Does gonorrhea cause symptoms?

Gonorrhea often has no symptoms, but it can cause serious health problems, even without symptoms. Regardless of symptoms, once infected, a person can spread it to others. The CDC recommends yearly gonorrhea screening for at- risk persons. Those include people younger than 25; or 25 and older with risk factors such as multiple sex partners, or a sex partner with known STI.

IF present, what are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

Many people do not have symptoms when they have a gonorrhea infection; but when symptoms do occur, they are often mild and a woman or doctor can mistake them for a bladder or vaginal infection. Symptoms can include: pain or burning when peeing; vaginal or anal discharge; vaginal bleeding between periods; anal itching, soreness, or bleeding; and/or painful bowel movements.

Are there any treatments available for gonorrhea?

The right antibiotic treatment can cure gonorrhea, but many infections are beginning to show resistance. CDC recommends a single dose of injected antibiotic (500mg ceftriaxone). It is important to take the medication prescribed to cure gonorrhea and return to a health care provider if symptoms continue a few days after treatment. Although medication will stop the infection, it will not heal any permanent damage done by the disease.

 

Does gonorrhea affect the spread of HIV?

Untreated gonorrhea likely increases your chances of getting or spreading HIV.

 

Are there any treatments available for gonorrhea?

The right antibiotic treatment can cure gonorrhea, but many infections are beginning to show resistance. CDC recommends a single dose of injected antibiotic (500mg ceftriaxone). It is important to take the medication prescribed to cure gonorrhea and return to a health care provider if symptoms continue a few days after treatment. Although medication will stop the infection, it will not heal any permanent damage done by the disease.

 

What complications can result from gonorrhea?

If left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID occurs when the infection spreads to the uterus or fallopian tubes.2 PID is associated with long-term problems including chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility.

Another possible complication of gonorrhea infection is the spread of the infection from a mother to her baby. If the mother is infected, newborn infants may acquire serious diseases such as meningitis and sepsis.

Another possible complication of a gonorrhea infection is disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI). DGI is usually characterized by arthritis, tenosynovitis, and/or dermatitis and can be life threatening.

 

Can gonorrhea be prevented?

Yes. The surest way to avoid getting gonorrhea is to abstain from vaginal, anal, and oral sex, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and known to be uninfected.4 Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhea.4 Mothers should be screened for gonorrhea infection during pregnancy to prevent the spread of gonorrhea infection to babies.

 

The information presented on this website is intended for general education purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional counseling, medical, or prenatal care.

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