Information for Patients
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease. It is most common in young adults. The bacteria that cause gonorrhea can infect the genital tract, mouth, or anus. You can get gonorrhea during vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner. A pregnant woman can pass it to her baby during childbirth.
Gonorrhea does not always cause symptoms. In men, gonorrhea can cause pain when urinating and discharge from the penis. If untreated, it can cause problems with the prostate and testicles.
In women, the early symptoms of gonorrhea often are mild. Later, it can cause bleeding between periods, pain when urinating, and increased discharge from the vagina. If untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which causes problems with pregnancy and infertility.
Your health care provider will diagnose gonorrhea with lab tests. Treatment is with antibiotics. Treating gonorrhea is becoming more difficult because drug-resistant strains are increasing. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading gonorrhea. The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection and inflammation of the uterus, ovaries, and other female reproductive organs. It causes scarring in these organs. This can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic pain, abscesses, and other serious problems. PID is the most common preventable cause of infertility in the United States.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia, two sexually transmitted diseases, are the most common causes of PID. Other bacteria can also cause it. You are at greater risk if you
- Are sexually active and younger than 25
- Have more than one sex partner
Some women have no symptoms. Others have pain in the lower abdomen, fever, smelly vaginal discharge, irregular bleeding, and pain during intercourse or urination. Doctors diagnose PID with a physical exam, lab tests, and imaging tests. Antibiotics can cure PID. Early treatment is important. Waiting too long increases the risk of infertility.