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Gonorrhea

What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can infect both men and women. It can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years.1

Did you know?

People who are sexually active can get gonorrhea, a common, treatable, sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Who should get tested

CDC recommends yearly gonorrhea screening for all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has an STI.

Gonorrhea's effects on your health

In women: If you have a genital gonorrhea infection and it is not promptly treated, the bacteria can move up to your uterus and fallopian tubes. These organs can become infected, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

PID may cause scar tissue to form in and around your fallopian tubes. If your fallopian tubes become completely blocked with scar tissue, you may not be able to get pregnant without medical help.1,2 If your fallopian tubes are only partially blocked, conception may occur, but the embryo may get stuck in one of the tubes instead of moving into your uterus where fetal development normally occurs. This is called a tubal or ectopic pregnancy, and it can be life-threatening if you do not receive immediate medical treatment.

In men: gonorrhea may be complicated by epididymitis. In rare cases, this may lead to infertility.1

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Man rubbing pregnant woman's feet

Gonorrhea and pregnancy

If you have a history of gonorrhea or PID and you become pregnant, you should seek medical care as early as possible to make sure the developing embryo is inside the uterus and not a fallopian tube. Pregnant women who have gonorrhea are at increased risk for premature labor.

If you have gonorrhea when you deliver a baby, your baby’s eyes may become infected while passing through the birth canal. This infection can cause blindness, joint infection, or a life-threatening blood infection in the baby.

Supporting your sexual health through education and testing

We want you to take charge of your health by staying informed and having open conversations with your healthcare provider. When you see your doctor, they will ask you questions about your health, and it is important to be honest and forthcoming.

Remember: You should ask questions, too. Together, you and your doctor will make decisions about your healthcare and any treatment you may need.1

References

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gonorrhea fact sheet. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/Gonorrhea/STDFact-gonorrhea.htm. Accessed April 22, 2019.

2. US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for chlamydial infection: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(12):902-10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2015;64:3.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gonorrhea fact sheet. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/Gonorrhea/STDFact-gonorrhea.htm. Accessed April 22, 2019. 

4. Marrazzo JM, Handsfield HH, Sparling PF. Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In: Mandell GL, Bennet JE, Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone; 2010:2753-2770.