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  • Writer's pictureDr. Yudara Kularathne


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels


Gonorrhoea is the second most common Sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by bacteria. People also call it “the clap.” Both men and women can get it, though men get it more often than women. It mostly causes infection in the urethra, rectum, and throat.

Table of Contents:


Symptoms and causes
How does Gonorrhea spread?
  • Sexual contact - You can get gonorrhea by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea.

  • Mother to child - A pregnant person with gonorrhea can give the infection to their baby during childbirth.


Gonorrhea often has no symptoms, but it can cause serious health problems, even without symptoms. Men who do have symptoms may have:

  • A burning sensation when peeing;

  • A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis; and

  • Painful or swollen testicles (although this is less common)

Most women with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they are often mild and can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Symptoms in women can include:

  • Painful or burning sensation when peeing;

  • Increased vaginal discharge; and

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods

Rectal infections may either cause no symptoms or cause symptoms in both men and women that may include:

  • Discharge;

  • Anal itching;

  • Soreness;

  • Bleeding; and

  • Painful bowel movements

When to see a doctor?

See your healthcare provider if you notice any of these symptoms. You should also see a provider if your partner has an STD or symptoms of one. Symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods.

Diagnosis and treatment
  • Urine test - This can help identify bacteria in your urethra.

  • Swab of the affected area - A swab of your throat, urethra, vagina, or rectum can collect bacteria that can be identified in a lab


Adults with gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that uncomplicated gonorrhea be treated with the antibiotic ceftriaxone — given as an injection — with oral azithromycin (Zithromax).

Your partner also should go through testing and treatment for gonorrhea, even if he or she has no signs or symptoms. Your partner receives the same treatment you do.

It is becoming harder to treat some gonorrhea, as drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing. Return to a healthcare provider if your symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment.

Coping and support

Healthy ways to cope with gonorrhea include the following:

  • Communicate with your partner. Be open and communicate with your partner.

  • Educate yourself. Talk with your healthcare provider. Learn about your treatment options.

  • Join a support group. Look for a group in your area or online. Learn from others' experiences.

Preparing for your appointment

When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restricting your diet. Additionally, you can also make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, if you have any, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment, and when they began

  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including doses

  • Questions to ask your doctor

For gonorrhea, questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What tests do I need?

  • Should I be tested for other sexually transmitted infections?

  • Should my partner be tested for gonorrhea?

  • How long should I wait before resuming sexual activity?

  • How can I prevent gonorrhea in the future?

  • What gonorrhea complications should I be alert for?

  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

  • Will I need a follow-up visit?

What to expect from your doctor

Questions your doctor is likely to ask you include:

  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?

  • How severe are your symptoms?

  • Have you been exposed to sexually transmitted infections?

What can you do in the meantime?

Abstain from sex until you see your doctor. Alert your sex partners that you're having signs and symptoms so that they can arrange to see their doctors for testing.

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