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Gonorrhea Prevention & Risks
Reviewed by Ruthann Cunningham, MD, June 2, 2017
How is gonorrhea spread?
Men and women can get gonorrhea by having unprotected vaginal sex, anal
sex, or by performing and receiving oral sex. The Neisseria gonorrhoeae
bacteria that causes gonorrhea infects the moist mucous membranes of the
penis, vagina, rectum (anus), throat and eyelids.
Abstaining from sex is the only way to be 100% safe from getting or
spreading gonorrhea.If you are sexually active, a latex condom is the best way to protect
yourself and your partner.And the best way for women to decrease their chance of infection
when having sex with other women is to properly use a latex dental dam.
What are the complications from untreated gonorrhea?
If untreated, gonorrhea infections can evolve into reproductive problems and other health
complications for both men and women. With gonorrhea and other STDs, you can have the infection and
not feel sick. That's why getting screened for gonorrhea is so important.
For women, untreated gonorrhea may result in:
Infertility caused by Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or (PID), an
infection that attacks the uterus and fallopian tubes and can lead to a tubal pregnancy
Inflammation of the bladder and chronic pelvic pain
For men, untreated gonorrhea may result in:
Inflammation of the prostate
Scarred and narrowed urethra
Spreading of the infection to the epididymis and testes
If you have gonorrhea, tell your partner(s).
Gonorrhea is contagious. If you have gonorrhea, then chances are your
sexual partner may as well. You should both be treated at the same time to
avoid reinfection. Tests can't detect how long a person has been been
Infected so it’s important to tell recent sexual partners that you have been
diagnosed so they can get tested, too. It's recommended to notify all sexual partners going back 6 months.
All pregnant women should be tested for gonorrhea.
Gonorrhea can be passed from mother to baby at birth and may cause a miscarriage. Gonorrhea is
one of the leading causes of prenatal (before baby's birth) pneumonia and conjunctivitis (pink
eye) in newborns, and these can lead to infant blindness or death.
HIV and gonorrhea
Being infected with gonorrhea increases the chance of getting HIV if you are exposed. If you have HIV and gonorrhea, a partner is more likely to get HIV from you.