Reviewed By: Dr. Kurt Kloss, MD
Last Reviewed Date: Dec 07, 2018
Last Modified Date: Dec 07, 2018
Published Date: Aug 25, 2017
Do you Have Gonorrhea? Ten Resources that Can Help
Gonorrhea is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by infection with a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can infect the mucus membranes in the bodies of both men and women, including the membranes in the reproductive tract, anus, mouth, throat and eyes. According to the CDC, 820,000 people in the U.S. get new gonorrhea infections every year through vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner. Here we'll point you towards some of the best gonorrhea resources to help you learn what to do if you think you have gonorrhea.
Sites that can offer solid information on the symptoms of gonorrhea include the CDC's Gonorrhea Fact Sheet, Planned Parenthood's Gonorrhea page, Mayo Clinic and TeensHealth.org.
Online Resources for Identifying Symptoms of Gonorrhea
According to these groups, gonorrhea may present with no symptoms at all in many people, especially women. Planned Parenthood says that 4 of every 5 females and 1 of every 10 males who are infected with the disease do not have any telltale signs or symptoms. That said, for those who do experience gonorrhea symptoms, they will typically appear 1 to 14 days after the infection is contracted. Gonorrhea symptoms in women may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Burning or pain during urination
- Frequent urination
- Bleeding between menstrual periods or other menstrual irregularities
- Pain or bleeding with intercourse
- Yellow or yellow-green vaginal discharge
- Vaginal swelling or tenderness
Common symptoms experienced by men infected with gonorrhea include:
- Pain or burning during urination
- Frequent urination
- Yellow or greenish discharge from the penis
- Swelling or pain in the testicles
Gonorrhea infections of the throat rarely present symptoms, but when they do, those symptoms can include a sore or itchy throat and difficulty swallowing. In both men and women, anal infection can lead to discharge, intense itching and pain during defecation. Planned Parenthood has a handy tool to help you decide if you need testing.
Who can Help If You Think You Have Gonorrhea?
If you think you may have gonorrhea, whether you have symptoms that concern you or a partner has been diagnosed with the disease, the only way to find out for sure if you're infected is gonorrhea testing. Great places to help you learn about gonorrhea testing include the CDC's National HIV and STD Testing Resources site, Planned Parenthood and Health Testing Centers, all of which can help you find discreet testing in your local area. The CDC even provides a handy app giving treatment guidelines for STDs including Gonorrhea.
According to these websites, lab tests that detect gonorrhea include urine tests and swab tests, which examine a sample of body fluids from the affected area. These tests are easily obtained through your doctor, STD or family planning clinics or online testing centers. Additionally, according to WebMD, another great gonorrhea resource, people who are infected with gonorrhea often have coexisting infections – most frequently chlamydia – so having a comprehensive STD testing panel done to rule out other infections is wise.
If you suspect you may have gonorrhea, it is important to refrain from sex – particularly unprotected sex – until you have been tested to avoid transmitting the disease to others. If your test shows that you do have this common STD, continue to avoid sex until your treatment with antibiotics is complete. In most cases, the antibiotics will quickly clear up the infection. However, treatment cannot reverse the complications caused by long-term untreated gonorrhea – which is why testing and, if necessary, treatment should be done immediately in patients in whom infection is suspected.
Why Testing and Treatment Is Essential: Gonorrhea Complications
Details on the potential long-term complications of gonorrhea are available from the American Sexual Health Foundation's gonorrhea page, Harvard Medical School and University of Maryland Medical Center.
According to these institutions, untreated gonorrhea in men can cause serious complications that include:
- Scarring or narrowing of the urethra
- Prostate damage
Long-term complications of gonorrhea in women can include:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Increased risk of ectopic pregnancy
- Infection of infants during birth
Complications of untreated gonorrhea that can occur in both men and women include the spread of the infection to the blood, joints or brain, which can be life-threatening, and a greater risk of contracting HIV.
While we've covered quite a few of the important points here, much more information on gonorrhea can be found via the organizations mentioned above. For your convenience, here is a concise listing of these top 10 resources for gonorrhea information:
- CDC: Gonorrhea Fact Sheet
- Planned Parenthood: Gonorrhea
- Mayo Clinic: Gonorrhea
- CDC National HIV and STD Testing Resources
- Health Testing Centers
- WebMD Sexual Conditions Health Center
- American Sexual Health Foundation: Gonorrhea
- Harvard Medical School: Health Publications: Gonorrhea
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Gonorrhea