School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine


Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Any sexually active person can be infected with gonorrhea since it is spread through contact with the vagina, penis, mouth, and anus.

Both men and women may have mild to no symptoms. For men, signs include a burning sensation when urinating; and a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis, or painful, swollen, testicles. Women may also have a painful or burning sensation when urinating, in addition to increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods.

Untreated gonorrhea in women can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can damage the reproductive organs. For men, gonorrhea can cause infertility. It can also spread to the blood and the joints. In addition, people with gonorrhea can more easily contract HIV, and HIV-infected people with gonorrhea are more likely to pass HIV to someone else.

Depending on the infected area, your doctor can test for gonorrhea with a sample from the area that may be infected or by a urine sample. Gonorrhea is treatable with antibiotics. Just make sure to take all of your medicine, even if the symptoms go away. Also, make sure that all of your partners are tested and treated before having sex again.

Ways to prevent gonorrhea:

  • Abstain from sex.
  • Only have sex with one partner who has been tested, and you know is not infected.
  • Always use condoms correctly.