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Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that is transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Many women and some men who have gonorrhea do not have any signs or symptoms. If not treated, gonorrhea can cause serious infection throughout the bloodstream and joints and permanent damage to the reproductive organs. It can also make a man or woman sterile (unable to have children). If a pregnant woman has gonorrhea, she can infect her baby during childbirth.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is also called “the clap” or “the drip.”

Man in bathroom looking uncomfortable.
A common sign of gonorrhea is pain when urinating.


In men:

  • Pain or burning when urinating

  • Watery, milky, or yellow discharge (drip) from the penis or anus

In women:

  • Yellow or white discharge (fluid) from the vagina or anus

  • Bleeding between periods


Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. If you are being treated, your partner should also be checked by a health care provider. Don’t have sex while you are being treated.


As with all STIs, knowing your partner’s sexual history is a big step toward preventing gonorrhea. Know the signs and symptoms of the infection. And use condoms every time you have sex to reduce your risk.

For More Information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  

Screening for Chlamydial and Gonorrheal Infection

Even if you don’t have symptoms, ask your health care provider about being screened yearly for infection if you are:

  • A sexually active woman aged 24 years or younger

  • A sexually active woman aged 25 years or older who has risk factors for infection. (Risk factors include: A history of previous chlamydia, gonorrhea, or other STI; new or multiple sexual partners; inconsistent condom use; exchanging sex for money or drugs; or drug use.)

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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