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Facts About...


What is it?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection. In females, gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a serious infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes. PID increases the risk of an ectopic or tubal pregnancy and can lead to infertility. In males, gonorrhea can cause difficulty passing urine and lead to sterility. Gonorrhea can also cause infection of the eyes, throat, joints and bloodstream.

Gonorrhea is a reportable infection and must be reported to the Health Department.

How is it spread?

Gonorrhea is spread by direct contact with sexual fluids of an infected person through anal, oral or vaginal intercourse. A female with gonorrhea can pass the infection to her newborn at the time of delivery.

What do I look for?

Males may feel a burning or itching sensation when passing urine. They may also have discharge from the penis. Females often have no symptoms, however, may have vaginal discharge or irritation, abnormal vaginal bleeding, or pain when passing urine.

How do you test for it?

A urine sample can be sent to the lab to test for gonorrhea. A swab from the penis, cervix, throat, or rectum may also be taken.

How is it treated?

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. It is important that the antibiotics are taken as directed otherwise the infection may not be cured. There is no effect on breastfeeding with this treatment. Treatment must be completed as prescribed even if you no longer have any symptoms.

How can I protect myself?

Gonorrhea can be spread to other sex partners as soon as you become infected. It is important to tell all sexual partners within the past 60 days that you are infected. They will need to be tested and treated if necessary. If you prefer, a nurse from the Health Department can contact your partner(s). All information including your name will be kept confidential.

It is recommended that you return to your health care provider for a follow-up visit to be sure your infection is gone. You can have sex again when you and your partner(s) have finished treatment and the doctor says you are no longer infectious.

October 30, 2015