NurseAsk Nurse Lisa


What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is the second-most contracted sexually transmitted infection (STI) after chlamydia. Gonorrhea spreads through sex (vaginal, oral or anal) with someone who has the infection.

How do I know if I have Gonorrhea?

The only way to know is to get tested. Testing can provide peace of mind and early treatment, if necessary. Visit a health care provider or Alaskans can order an STI self-test kit.

Signs & symptoms of Gonorrhea

Someone with gonorrhea may have:

  • discharge from the vagina, penis or anus 
  • in male-bodied people, pain in testicles
  • in female-bodied people, vaginal bleeding between periods
  • pain in the lower belly
  • pain when peeing
  • rectal pain, especially when having a bowel movement (pooping)

Many people with gonorrhea have no symptoms.

How can I get it?

People can get gonorrhea, even multiple times, if their partners aren’t treated with antibiotics OR if they get treated but then have sex with someone else who has gonorrhea. Sometimes there are no symptoms, so gonorrhea can be spread from person to person without knowing it.

Gonorrhea can be passed from person to person through vaginal, anal or oral sex. Ejaculation does not have to happen for the infection to be passed from one person to another. Gonorrhea infections can occur in the mouth, throat, eyes, anus, cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. It can be passed during childbirth.

How can I get treated?

Gonorrhea infections can be easily cured with antibiotics. Visit a health care provider or Alaskans can order a self-test kit to be prescribed the correct antibiotics.

All sexual partners from the past two months need treatment too, even if they do not have signs of gonorrhea.

Avoid having sex again until:

  • at least 7 days after completing the antibiotics prescription
  • there are no longer signs or symptoms of gonorrhea

What happens if I don’t get treated?

  • in female-bodied people: pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can damage the reproductive system and impact fertility
  • in male-bodied people: swelling in the testicles and tubes at the back of the testicles, possibly impacting fertility
  • problems peeing due to scars in the urethra
  • infection of the blood that can lead to joint problems and other problems

How can you prevent Gonorrhea?

The only way to 100% prevent gonorrhea or other STIs is to not have sex ( oral, vaginal or anal). If engaging in sex, using a condom every time can prevent most STIs. Order free condoms through our online store.

People who are sexually active should get tested every year or more. This allows for earlier treatment, if needed. Visit a health care provider to get tested or Alaskans can order an STI self-test kit.

Get Help

For general resources about relationships, sex, wellness and more, please do a search on the Get Answers page.

Are you in immediate danger?

Call 911 or your local police. If not in an immediate threat, please view resources on the Get Care page.