Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that is transmitted sexually. Many women and some men who have gonorrhea don't have any signs or symptoms. If not treated, gonorrhea can cause a painful penile, vaginal, or rectal discharge. It can sometimes lead to swollen and painful joints or lifelong (permanent) damage to your reproductive organs. And in some cases it can make a man or woman unable to have children (infertile). If a pregnant woman has gonorrhea, she can infect her baby during childbirth.

Woman in exam room talking to healthcare provider.

Gonorrhea is also called the clap or the drip.


In men:

  • Pain or burning when urinating

  • Watery, milky, or yellow discharge from the penis or anus

In women:

  • Yellow or white discharge from the vagina or anus

  • Bleeding between periods


Gonorrhea can be cured quickly with antibiotics. If you are being treated, your partner should also be checked by a healthcare provider. Don’t have sex while you are being treated and for a week after.


As with all sexually transmitted infections (STIs), knowing your partner’s sexual history is important. It's a key step in preventing gonorrhea. Also know the signs and symptoms of the infection. And use latex condoms to reduce your risk.


American Sexual Health Association STD Hotline, 919-361-8488, www.ashasexualhealth.org

CDC, 800-232-4636, www.cdc.gov/std

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