Gonorrhea

WHAT IS IT?

Gonorrhea is the second most common bacterial STI. It is most common in individuals who are between the ages of 15 and 29 years, and two-thirds of all cases reported in Canada are in men. However, persons of any age and any gender can get gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can affect the cervix, urethra, rectum, throat, and occasionally the eyes.

HOW WOULD I GET IT?

Gonorrhea can be spread through unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected partner. Someone can become infected through sexual contact even if there is no penetration or ejaculation (e.g., oral sex). Gonorrhea can also be passed from a mother to her infant during birth, which may lead to an eye infection in the infant.

HOW WOULD I KNOW I HAD IT?

Many infected individuals have no symptoms. However, if someone did have symptoms, they would likely appear 2 - 7 days after initial exposure to the bacteria.

Symptoms for females may include:
• Vaginal discharge
• Painful urination
• Lower abdominal pain
• Vaginal bleeding after intercourse or between menstrual periods
• Pain during intercourse
• Rectal pain, discharge, or itching

Symptoms for males may include:
• Thick, yellowish-green discharge from the penis
• Painful urination
• Testicular pain and/or swelling
• Rectal pain, discharge, or itching

To learn more about how to get tested for gonorrhea, please visit the STI Testing section of our website.

CAN IT BE TREATED AND CURED?

Yes. Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics. It is important for both (all) partners to be treated.

IF IT ISN’T TREATED, CAN IT LEAD TO MORE SERIOUS PROBLEMS?

Yes. Gonorrhea can lead to serious complications if not detected and treated early. For females, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is when infection spreads to the uterus and fallopian tubes. This can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. For males, untreated gonorrhea can lead to inflammation of the testicles. It may also lead to rashes, sores, and joint paint; and in rare cases, in can cause infertility. For all genders, untreated gonorrhea can also lead to a systemic gonococcal infection. It is also important to note that all persons infected with gonorrhea are at increased risk of contracting and transmitting HIV.