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Sexual and Reproductive Health



Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria (Neisseria gonorrhoeae).

How do I get gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is passed between people through unprotected sexual contact (oral, vaginal, or anal sex without a condom or other barrier method). You can infect others right after you come in contact with gonorrhea. You can spread it to others without knowing it.

How do I prevent gonorrhea?

When you’re sexually active, the best way to prevent gonorrhea is to use condoms or other barrier method for oral, vaginal, and anal sex.

Don’t have any sexual contact if you or your partner(s) have symptoms of an STI or may have been exposed to an STI. See a doctor or go to an STI clinic for testing.

Get STI testing every 3 to 6 months if you have:

  • a new partner
  • more than one partner
  • anonymous partners
  • any symptoms

How do I know if I have gonorrhea?

Up to 4 in 10 people with gonorrhea don’t have symptoms. The infection can be in the rectum, penis, cervix, throat, and the eye. If you have gonorrhea, you may have:

  • pain or burning when you pee
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • green or yellow discharge from the penis 
  • irritation or itching inside the penis

Other symptoms include:

  • irregular bleeding (often after sex)
  • pain in the abdomen or pain during sex
  • painful or swollen testicles
  • discharge, bleeding, or itching from the bum
  • redness or discharge from one or both eyes​​
  • swelling, itching, or pain in the genital area

The best way to find out if you have gonorrhea is to get tested. Your nurse or doctor can test you by taking a swab or doing a urine test.

Is gonorrhea harmful?

If not treated, gonorrhea can cause serious long-term effects including infertility and arthritis.

Other effects include:

These effects can be prevented if you get early STI testing and treatment.

What if I’m pregnant?

If not treated, gonorrhea can cause early delivery or rupture of membranes. If you are pregnant, aren’t treated, and have a vaginal delivery, gonorrhea can cause serious eye, blood, and joint infections for the baby. Get tested and treated before delivery to prevent problems.

How is gonorrhea treated?

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. Your partner(s) needs to be tested and treated, even if there are no symptoms. You can get re-infected if you have unprotected sex with someone before they are treated.

When can I have sex again?

It will take 1 week for the antibiotic to get rid of the infection. Don’t have unprotected sex (oral, vaginal, or anal sex without a condom ​or other barrier method) for 7 days after you and your partner(s) have been treated. The best protection is not to have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal) for at least 7 days.

If you still have symptoms, don’t have any sexual contact.

What if I still have symptoms following treatment?

Please contact your healthcare provider.

Where can I find more information?

If you have questions, need to find a clinic near you, or want more information, call Health Link at 811 anytime, day or night, to talk to a registered nurse.​​

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