What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can be spread through oral, vaginal, or anal sexual contact, and it's very easy to transmit. It's estimated that about 820,000 new cases of gonorrhea occur in the United States each year.


Gonorrhea is often asymptomatic in both men and women. If symptoms do occur, they typically show up two to five days after exposure and can include:

  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Anal itching or discomfort
  • Painful or swollen testicles
  • Painful bowel movements

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your doctor can diagnose gonorrhea through a urine test or through swabbing the infected area and sending the samples to a lab. If you're diagnosed with gonorrhea, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat it. It's important to take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure the infection, even if your symptoms go away.


The best way to protect yourself from gonorrhea and other STIs is to practice safe sex (i.e., use condoms and dental dams). You should also get tested regularly if you’re sexually active.