What is it?

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can cause pain, burning, or itching in the penis, vagina, or anus. It can also cause unusual liquids called discharge to come out of the penis, vagina, or anus.

How can you get it?

You can get gonorrhea through oral, vaginal, or anal sex with a partner who has gonorrhea. The infection is transmitted when your mouth, vagina, or anus comes into contact with your partner’s sexual fluids. Sexual fluids include ejaculate, vaginal fluid, and anal fluid.

How do you know if you have it?

Many people with gonorrhea do not have any signs. This is especially true if the infection is in the mouth, vagina, or anus. If you do have signs, they may include: 


Testing for gonorrhea usually involves peeing in a cup. Your urine will be sent to a lab for testing. If you have signs such as unusual discharge, your healthcare provider may also take a swab using a long q-tip or tiny brush. Most tests give accurate results 7 days after the sex act that may have exposed you to gonorrhea. 


Antibiotics cure the infection completely if taken properly. Be sure to take the medication as directed by your healthcare provider and finish all the pills in the bottle.


You can reduce your risk of getting gonorrhea by using barriers such as condoms and dental dams during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. You can also choose to engage in sexual activity that does not pose a high risk for spreading gonorrhea such as giving or receiving a massage, mutual masturbation, or sharing a sexual fantasy. You and your partner can get tested before engaging in sexual activity to ensure neither of you has gonorrhea.

Looking to get tested?

To know for sure if you have Gonorrhea, you need to get tested. We know that visiting a clinic can be a stressful and overwhelming process for some folks – click here to find a place to get tested near you. Visit our Services and Supports Near You page for clinics and organizations that offer culturally relevant and trauma informed services.

Find Testing Near You

Symptoms, Treatment and Resources

Click below to download NWAC’s Gonorrhea Fact Sheet to access this information in a PDF format where you can find a full list of references:

Gonorrhea Fact Sheet (789 KB)