Gonorrhea is a sexually-transmitted disease that generally causes infections in the groin, rectum, and throat area. Babies can also be infected with this disease when mothers that have gonorrhea give birth. In the United States in 2018, 1.6 million new cases of this disease were recorded with more than half occurring among young people aged 15-24.

Last Updated: February 21, 2024

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This bacteria is usually passed from one person to another by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a carrier. A pregnant mother can also give the disease to her child during childbirth when the baby passes through the genital tract. 


Having multiple sexual partners or using no protection during sexual intercourse can increase the risk of a person contracting gonorrhea.

Kissing, hugging, or sharing utensils with someone who has gonorrhea will not spread this disease.

Gonorrhea usually affects the genital tract and signs and symptoms in men include:

  • Painful urination (burning sensation)
  • Pus-like penis discharge (white, yellow, or green)
  • Pain or swelling in the testicles


Symptoms of gonorrhea infection in women include:

  • Painful urination
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods (sometimes after sexual intercourse)
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain


Gonorrhea infections can also occur at other regions of the body and their corresponding symptoms are:

  • Rectum (anal itching, pus-like discharge, bleeding)
  • Eyes (pain, sensitivity to light, pus-like discharge)
  • Throat (sore throat, swollen lymph nodes)

Babies that get gonorrhea during birth usually present with symptoms in their eyes. 

Urine tests are sufficient enough to diagnose a person with gonorrhea. If a patient is sexually active, the physician may collect samples from the genital, rectum, or throat and request a culture to confirm infection.

Unlike some sexually-transmitted diseases, gonorrhea is perfectly curable by antibiotic treatment. Usually, a dose of ceftriaxone is injected into the patient's muscle and a round of oral azithromycin is given as a supplement. However, it is important to know that gonorrhea has started to become resistant to some antibiotics and it is essential that a prescribed round of antibiotics must be completed.

Using barrier type protection, such as condoms and female condoms, during sexual intercourse can reduce a person’s risk for gonorrhea. One can also limit the number of sexual partners they have to minimize the chance of infection. 


For a sexually active individual, it is highly recommended that they undergo regular testing for this disease to treat any infections as early as possible. If ever a person does test positive, they should inform their previous sexual partners of their diagnosis so they could also get treatment as soon as possible.

Last Updated: February 21, 2024