Photo Credit: ecastro

Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD). It can affect the penis, cervix, anus, throat or eyes.

How do you catch it? Gonorrhea is transmitted through unprotected sex—vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom or dental dam.A pregnant woman who has gonorrhea can also pass it onto her baby when she gives birth.

How can I avoid gonorrhea? Practicing safe sex by using condoms or dams every time you have sex can protect you from gonorrhea and other STDs. Check out the Condoms fact sheet for tips on how to use condoms correctly.

How can I tell if I have it? You can’t always tell if you have an STD. Some people get gonorrhea and have no symptoms, so you could pass it on without even knowing you have it. Gonorrhea can infect your throat too, through oral sex. It might give you a sore throat, but sometimes you won’t have any symptoms. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or if you’ve had unprotected sex, contact your doctor or a local health clinic about getting tested.

What happens during a gonorrhea test? For women, a doctor or nurse will swipe a cotton swab on your cervix. For men, the doctor will take a sample from the opening of the penis. The doctor or nurse might also take a urine sample.

Will it go away if I ignore it? No! This infection won’t get better on its own, but can be easily treated with antibiotic pills. If it’s not treated, gonorrhea can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease for women or infertility for both men and women. It can also increase your risk of getting or passing on HIV.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

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