Teen STI Card—Gonorrhea

Think you can’t get gonorrhea?  Are you positive?

Every year, almost 4 million American teenagers get an STD.1,2  If you’ve had sex, you could be infected with one or more STDs, including gonorrhea.  Some STDs cause symptoms.  Others don’t.  You could have one now and not even know it.  Just because you don’t know you’re infected doesn’t mean you’re not being affected.  Some STDs make you sick today and others cause problems later in life – serious problems like cancer or infertility.  So get your facts straight about GONORRHEA.

What is it?

Gonorrhea is the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD).3  

Who gets it?

Both men and women.

How you get it:

By having sex (vaginal, anal or oral sex) with an infected person.4 

How will I know if I’m infected?

Most infected people – especially, infected women – don’t have symptoms, so they can’t tell.5  Even without symptoms, infected people can pass gonorrhea to every person they have sex with.  When people with gonorrhea do have symptoms, they might experience pain when going to the bathroom or a discharge from the penis or vagina.

How do you treat gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics.  But if you don’t know you’re infected, you won’t be looking for treatment.  If you have had sex, see your doctor and get checked.  Don’t put it off.  If treatment is delayed, infected women can get a pelvic inflammatory disease (a serious complication of gonorrhea).  PID causes problems now (abdominal pain) and problems later (difficulty getting pregnant or infertility).6  

What can I do to avoid being infected with gonorrhea?

Abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only certain way to avoid being infected.  If you haven’t had sex, your chances or getting gonorrhea are small.  Already had sex?  Get checked out – and next time, get your facts straight.

References:

1 American Social Health Association. Sexually Transmitted Diseases in America: How Many Cases and at What Cost? Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation, 1998. Available at: http://www.kff.org/womenshealth/1445-std_rep.cfm. Accessed 2008 Aug 20.

2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010: Understanding and Improving Health. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, November 2000. Available at: http://www.healthypeople.gov/document/html/volume2/25stds.htm#_ednref28. Accessed 2008 Aug 20.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Profile: Gonorrhea [surveillance data on the Internet; last modified 2007 Nov 13]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats/gonorrhea.htm. Accessed 2008 Mar 28.  (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5YM4dzcRu; cached 2008 Jun 5).

4 Hook EW, Handsfield HH. Gonococcal infections in the adult. In: Holmes KK, et al., eds. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 4th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2008:627-645.

5 Korenromp EL, Sudaryo MK, de Vlas SJ, et al. What proportion of episodes of gonorrhoea and chlamydia becomes symptomatic? Int J STD AIDS. 2002;13(2):91-101.

6 Paavonen J, Westrom L, Eschenbach D. Pelvic inflammatory disease. In: Holmes KK, et al., eds. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 4th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2008:1017-1050.