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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Gonorrhea facts

Signs and symptoms

  • Many people do not have symptoms.
  • If symptoms do occur, it is usually between 2 and 7 days after exposure but may be as long as 30 days.
  • Abnormal discharge from penis or vagina
  • Burning or pain while peeing
  • Irritation around the anus; bleeding or painful bowel movements
  • Itching around opening of penis
  • Soreness or swelling around top of penis
  • Painful or swollen testicles
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Painful intercourse (women)
  • Lower abdominal or back pain (women)

Transmission

  • Oral, anal or vaginal sex
  • Infected mother to baby at vaginal birth

Prevention

  • Abstain from oral, anal and vaginal sex.
  • Use condoms/barriers consistently and correctly during oral, anal or vaginal sex.
  • Maintain a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for gonorrhea and is not infected.
  • Get early treatment for STDs.
  • Get an infected partner treated.
  • If a partner has gonorrhea, do not have sex with him/her until they complete treatment.

Treatment

  • See a health care provider for exam and tests to figure out the best treatment.
  • Treatment is typically a shot given in a clinic and might also include pills prescribed by a health care provider.
  • If pregnant, get a follow-up exam to make sure the treatment worked.

If not treated...

  • Can increase risk for getting HIV
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (women)
  • Infertility (women)
  • Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • During pregnancy:
    • Premature delivery
    • Low birth weight in newborns
    • Eye and respiratory tract infections in newborns

Help stop the spread of gonorrhea

  • Refrain from oral, anal or vaginal sex if you have symptoms.
  • Seek medical care, including STD tests.
  • Do not have sex until you have completed treatment.
  • Take all medicines prescribed, even if your symptoms are gone.
  • Re-test in 3 months.
  • Make sure sex partners get treated.
  • Get yearly STD screens if sexually active.
  • If you are pregnant, get tested for STDs and HIV.

For King County health care providers: