Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by a bacterium. More than 700,000 people in the United States are infected each year. The bacteria can grow in several places in the body, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), urethra (urine canal), mouth, throat, eyes and anus.
Most women who have gonorrhea do not have symptoms. Some women:
- Feel pain or burning when they urinate
- Have more discharge from the vagina than usual
- Have bleeding or spotting from the vagina
Women who have gonorrhea can develop serious complications if the infection is untreated. They can get pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries in the woman's pelvis. It can cause pain and, if the tubes scar, infertility. Untreated gonorrhea can also spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life threatening.
Health care providers use lab tests to diagnose gonorrhea.
Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics.
Babies can get the infection during birth as they pass through the birth canal. In babies, gonorrhea can cause blindness, joint infection, or a life-threatening blood infection.
What you can do
Ask your health care provider to screen you for gonorrhea early in pregnancy. Many providers do this routinely as part of prenatal care. If you do have gonorrhea, you can get antibiotics to treat the infection. This will prevent any complications for you and your baby.
Be sure your partner is also screened. Partners can pass the infection back and forth between themselves.
While you're pregnant, you can avoid gonorrhea by not having sex. If you do have sex:
- Have sex with only one partner who is only having sex with you, has been tested for gonorrhea, and is uninfected.
- Use a latex condom.
- If your provider gives you antibiotics, be sure to take them as directed. Take all of the antibiotics the provider gives you, even if your symptoms go away quickly.
For more information
- CDC information line
In English and Spanish
TTY for the deaf and hard of hearing (888) 232-6348
- American Social Health Association