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Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection that is cause by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.  Antibiotic treatment, when taken as directed, can cure gonorrhea infections.


For more information on symptoms, causes, treatments and prevention see the Overview section.

Information for Health Professionals

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection of the urethra in men and the urethra, cervix, or both in women. Gonorrhea can also infect the rectum, anus, throat, pelvic organs, and in rare cases, the conjunctiva, which is the membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface.


It is fairly common for gonorrhea to cause no symptoms, especially in women. People who do not have symptoms can unknowingly transmit gonorrhea infections to their sex partners.
The throat, anus, urethra, and rectum are common areas of infection in both men and women. Symptoms may include painful urination, anal itching or bleeding, or abnormal discharge from the penis, vagina or rectum. Gonorrhea infection in the throat doesn't usually cause symptoms, such as a sore throat. 

In men, symptoms are usually obvious enough that they will cause a man to seek medical attention before complications occur.

In women, the early symptoms are sometimes so mild they are mistaken for a bladder infection or less serious vaginal infection and are easily dismissed. When an untreated infection has moved into the pelvic organs, symptoms can include lower pelvic or belly pain, vaginal bleeding, fever, and pain during sex.

The incubation period—the time from exposure to gonorrhea until symptoms develop—is usually 2 to 7 days, but sometimes symptoms may not develop for up to 30 days.


Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can be spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner. You have a high risk of getting infected when your partner has gonorrhea and you have sex without a condom.


Gonorrhea causes no long-term problems if it is treated before any complications develop. Left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to serious complications:


Your health professional will ask you questions about your medical history and will do a physical examination. He or she will ask you questions about your risk factors for STIs.

Lab tests must be done to confirm gonorrhea infection. These tests may include taking samples of fluid from the affected areas (such as the urethra, rectum or throat) or taking urine samples.


Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotic treatment should be taken as directed. If you miss doses or don't take the full course of medicine, the infection may not be cured. 

Treatment is recommended for:
  • A person who has a positive gonorrhea test.
  • Anyone who has had sexual contact in the past 60 days with a person diagnosed with gonorrhea, whether or not they have symptoms or used condoms.
  • A newborn whose mother has gonorrhea at the time of delivery.
Do not have sexual contact with anyone:
  • While you are being treated.
  • Until both you and your partner(s) have been tested and treated.
  • For at least 7 days after starting treatment.

Having a gonorrhea infection once does not protect you from getting another infection in the future. If you are treated for gonorrhea and your sex partner is not, you will probably become infected again. If you are diagnosed with gonorrhea, any sex partners you have had within the previous 60 days need to be tested and treated.


You can reduce your risk of getting gonorrhea, or any other sexually transmitted infection (STI), by practicing safe sex. Your risk of getting gonorrhea is higher if you:

  • Have multiple sex partners
  • Have unprotected sexual contact
SOURCE: Gonorrhea ( )
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