What Is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can cause a bacterial infection in the genital tract, rectum or throat. It is spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex and is most common among people ages 15 to 24.

Gonorrhea doesn’t always have symptoms, but if left untreated, it can cause serious complications. In men, it can lead to problems with the prostate and testicles. In women, gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) (an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries), infertility or ectopic (tubal) pregnancy (a potentially fatal pregnancy that develops in the fallopian tubes). Gonorrhea can spread to the baby during childbirth and cause a serious eye infection.

The only way to avoid getting gonorrhea is to avoid having vaginal, anal or oral sex. If you are sexually active:

  • Use a condom or dental dam every time you have sex.
  • Only have sex with a partner who has been tested and is free of STDs.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about STDs. Other names for gonorrhea include the clap, the drip and GC.
  • Know that up to 40 percent of people who have gonorrhea also have chlamydia.
  • Cases of gonorrhea are reported to the state health department.