Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that can affect both men and women. The infection, which is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, most often affects the urethra, rectum, throat and cervix (in women). It is a common infection that is passed from one person to another during sexual contact. In most cases, gonorrhea causes no symptoms. In fact a person may not even be aware that they have gonorrhea. Risk factors include younger age, a new sex partner, multiple sex partners, previous diagnosis of gonorrhea, and having other sexually transmitted infections.
When gonorrhea does cause symptoms, they usually appear in the genital tract. Symptoms in men include pain with urination, pus-like discharge from the tip of the penis, and pain or swelling in one testicle. Symptoms in women include increased vaginal discharge, painful urination, vaginal bleeding between periods, abdominal pain, and pelvic pain. Gonorrhea can also cause symptoms in other parts of the body. In the rectum, symptoms include itching, pus-like discharge from the rectum, spots of blood on toilet tissue, and strain during bowel movements. In the throat, symptoms include sore throat and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
Your doctor can diagnose gonorrhea by analyzing a sample of cells, which can be collected by a urine test or a swab of the affected area. Home testing kits are available for women, which include vaginal swabs that are sent to a lab for testing. When you are tested, your doctor may recommend other tests to check for other sexually transmitted infections. Treatment is usually given through antibiotics. If you receive treatment for gonorrhea, it is important that your sexual partner is also treated, as they may also have gonorrhea and not know it. Babies born to women who have a gonorrhea infection are at risk for eye infection and will need specific eye treatment right after birth.