Island Sexual Health Society Be informed, not surprised!

Gonorrhea symptoms, testing and treatment

2006 June 16

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium _Neisseria gonorrhoeae_. It has also been known as “the clap” or “the dose.”

“Make an appointment”:/about/appointments/ at any of our clinics in Greater Victoria to get tested for gonorrhea, or to find out more.

* “How gonorrhea spreads”:#spread
* “Preventing gonorrhea”:#prevent
* “Gonorrhea symptoms”:#symptoms
* “Risks of untreated gonorrhea”:#risks
* “Gonorrhea tests and diagnosis”:#tests
* “Gonorrhea treatment”:#treatment

For further reading, see our “links and other resources”:/resources/external/.

h3(#spread). How gonorrhea spreads

There has been an increase in the rates of gonorrhea in BC over the past few years.

* Gonorrhea is spread through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner
* It can be spread just through *contact* with the penis, vagina, mouth or anus. Ejaculation is not necessary.
* Can be spread from an infected mother to baby during delivery
* After getting gonorrhea once, you do not become “immune” to it. You can be re-infected anytime.

h3(#prevent). Preventing gonorrhea

To prevent gonorrhea, use good “sex safety”:/sex-safety/ skills including regular “infection screening”:/infections/.

* Use “condoms”:/sex-safety/using-condoms to reduce the risk of gonorrhea during vaginal and anal sex.
* Use condoms and “dental dams”:/sex-safety/dental-dams to prevent transmission during oral sex.
* “Make an appointment”:/about/appointments/ to get tested for gonorrhea.

h3(#symptoms). Gonorrhea symptoms

*Many people have no symptoms* with a gonorrhea infection, but any symptoms usually appear within 30 days of infection.

* Gonorrhea can infect the cervix, penis, rectum or throat.
* Throat infections may cause a sore throat but usually don’t.
* Rectal infections may cause discharge, itching, soreness, bleeding, painful bowel movements, or not.
* Gonorrhea in women may cause burning when urinating, different vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods or after intercourse.
* Gonorrhea in men may cause burning when urinating, discharge from the penis, or painful or swollen testicles.

h3(#risks). Risks of untreated gonorrhea

* In women, gonorrhea can result in “pelvic inflammatory disease”:/infections/pid/ (PID) which can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or chronic pelvic pain.
* In men, gonorrhea can cause an infection of the tube that carries sperm from the testicles (epididymitis) which can lead to infertility.

h3(#tests). Gonorrhea tests and diagnosis

* Lab tests can be done with a urine sample or by taking a swab from the infected site such as the cervix, urethra, rectum, or throat.
* At ISHS, we always swab for gonorrhea whenever we do a “Pap test”:/exams/female/, but this is not routinely done elsewhere. Outside of our clinics, always ask for STI swabs to be done if you want them taken during a Pap test.

h3(#treatment). Gonorrhea treatment

* Gonorrhea is easily treated and cured with antibiotics (provided you finish all the medication).
* All recent sex partners (previous 60 days ) need to be treated.
* You need to abstain from having sex until 1 week after you and your partner have completed the entire course of antibiotics– if not, you can easily become re-infected.