Gonorrhea is an infection caused by a sexually transmitted bacterium that can infect both males and females. Gonorrhea most often affects the urethra, rectum or throat. In females, gonorrhea can also infect the cervix.
Most people contract gonorrhea during sex. But babies can be infected during childbirth if their mothers are infected. In babies, gonorrhea most commonly affects the eyes.
Gonorrhea is a common infection, and in some cases, causes no symptoms. You may not even know that you're infected. Abstaining from sex, using a condom if you do have sex and being in a mutually monogamous relationship are the best ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Gonorrhea infection can affect multiple sites in your body, but it most commonly appears in the genital tract.
Gonorrhea affecting the genital tract
Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea infection in women include:
Gonorrhea at other sites in the body
When to see your doctor
Also make an appointment with your doctor if your partner has been diagnosed with gonorrhea. You may not experience signs or symptoms that prompt you to seek medical attention. But without treatment, you can reinfect your partner even after he or she has been treated for gonorrhea.
Male reproductive system
The male reproductive system makes, stores and moves sperm. Testicles produce sperm. Fluid from the seminal vesicles and prostate gland combine with sperm to make semen. The penis ejaculates semen ...
Female reproductive system
The ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix and vagina make up the female reproductive system. ...
Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The gonorrhea bacteria are most often passed from one person to another during sexual contact, including oral, anal or vaginal intercourse.
Factors that may increase your risk of gonorrhea infection include:
Untreated gonorrhea can lead to significant complications, such as:
Preparing for your appointment
If you think you have gonorrhea, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. If your gonorrhea causes complications, you may be referred to specialists.
Because appointments can be brief and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, as well as what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For gonorrhea, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment if you have trouble understanding something the doctor says.
What to expect from your doctor
What you can do in the meantime
Tests and diagnosis
To determine whether the gonorrhea bacterium is present in your body, your doctor will analyze a sample of cells. Samples can be collected by:
Testing for other sexually transmitted infections
Treatments and drugs
Gonorrhea treatment in adults
Gonorrhea treatment for partners
Gonorrhea treatment for babies
Take steps to reduce your risk of gonorrhea:
Last Updated: 2011-01-08
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