Updated: Feb 10
What is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea, sometimes called "the clap" or "the drip," is an easily curable bacterial infection. It is one of the most common STIs.
When we say common, we mean REALLY common.
About 1.6 MILLION people contract gonorrhea every year in America (mostly between 15 and 24 years old), making it one of the most commonly reported STIs in the US.
Gonorrhea is easily treatable.
Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics. The sooner you find out you have it, the easier it is to cure.
How is gonorrhea spread?
Gonorrhea can be spread even if no one ejaculates.
Gonorrhea is carried in semen, pre-cum, and vaginal fluids. It can infect the penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra, and throat. Generally, this happens through vaginal sex or anal sex. In rare cases, gonorrhea can be spread through oral sex, too.
What are the symptoms?
Part of the reason gonorrhea is so common is that there usually are no symptoms.
However, some signs can show up:
unusual vaginal discharge
yellow, white, or green discharge from the penis
bleeding outside of periods
pain or burning while peeing
swollen or tender testicles
Symptoms are more likely to show up in people with penises, and they usually are present within a week.
How does testing work?
Testing for gonorrhea is generally simple and painless.
Often, this just means peeing in a cup. In the case of other infected areas, your doctor may take samples from your throat, vagina, cervix, urethra, or anus with a cotton swab to test for bacteria.
Because symptoms for chlamydia and gonorrhea are similar, you'll often be tested for both at the same time. It's important to get tested regularly. If you're sexually active, this means at least once per year. Even if you or your partner don't show symptoms, you should follow this general rule of thumb.
If left untreated for too long, gonorrhea can cause infertility and increase your risk of getting HIV. If you're pregnant, you could also pass it to your baby or have a premature delivery. So, do you and your partner a HUGE favor and put your minds at ease.
What if I have it?
So, your results came back positive.
The first thing to remember is that this is nothing to be ashamed of. Like we said earlier, this is a very, very common infection. If you or your partner have gonorrhea, it does not necessarily mean anyone cheated. Test results may not detect the infection until well after contracting it.
How do I get rid of it?
Luckily, gonorrhea is easily treatable with antibiotics. There are different forms of antibiotics that are used to treat gonorrhea, so make sure to follow the instructions from your doctor. Sometimes it’s just a pill. However, some strains of gonorrhea are resistant to antibiotics, so you may receive a shot in addition to oral antibiotics. Often, your doctor may give you medicine for both you and your partner(s). It is important that BOTH of you finish your treatment and don't have sex for at least 7 days.
For real, getting frisky can wait.
If you don't take your antibiotics all the way through, you run the risk of re-infecting your partner or other people. Willingly risking your or your partner's sexual health isn't sexy. Peace of mind is sexy. Always make sure to listen to your doctor to effectively get rid of gonorrhea.
What is Chlamydia?: Causes of Chlamydia Infection. Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/chlamydia.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, July 22). Detailed STD Facts - Gonorrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/stdfact-gonorrhea-detailed.htm.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2019. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2019/overview.htm#Gonorrhea