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Gonorrhea doesn’t always have symptoms, so many people don’t know they’ve got it. But if you do notice signs of gonorrhea, get tested right away. Here’s what to look for.

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Gonorrhea doesn’t always have symptoms.

Gonorrhea can be tricky, because you or your partner may not have any symptoms. Or the signs of gonorrhea may be so mild you don’t even notice them. Sometimes people confuse gonorrhea symptoms with other infections. Lots of people don’t even realize they have gonorrhea — that’s part of the reason why it’s such a common infection (and why it’s so important to get tested).

Gonorrhea can lead to serious health problems and even infertility if you don’t treat it. But it’s usually easy to cure it with medicine. This is why regular STD testing is so important, no matter how healthy you feel.

Symptoms of gonorrhea.

Most people with vaginas who get gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms. If they do, gonorrhea symptoms show up within about a week of being infected. These include:

  • Pain or burning feeling when you pee

  • Abnormal discharge from the vagina that may be yellowish or bloody

  • Bleeding between periods

People with penises are more likely to have symptoms if they get gonorrhea. The symptoms usually begin within a week after they get the infection. These include:

  • Yellow, white, or green discharge from your penis

  • Pain or burning feeling when you pee

  • Pain or swelling in your testicles

Gonorrhea can also infect your anus if you have anal sex, or you may spread the infection to your anus from another part of your body (like by wiping after you go to the bathroom). Anal gonorrhea often doesn’t have any symptoms. But signs of gonorrhea in your anus can include:

  • Itching in or around your anus

  • Discharge from your anus

  • Pain when you poop

Gonorrhea infections in the throat also rarely cause symptoms. If symptoms do show up, it’s usually just a sore throat.

If you or your sexual partner(s) have any of these symptoms, go to a nurse, doctor, or your local Planned Parenthood Health Center. It’s especially important to get checked out if you’re pregnant. The only way to know for sure if you have gonorrhea is to get tested.

More questions from patients:

What are gonorrhea symptoms in women?

Most women with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms. If you do get symptoms, they usually show up between 2 and 14 days after having sex with someone who’s infected. Symptoms can also show up weeks later.

Even without symptoms, if you have gonorrhea and you don’t get it treated, it can cause other health problems: Untreated gonorrhea can damage your reproductive system, increase your risk of getting or giving HIV, cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or lead to infertility. In rare cases, it can spread to your blood or joints. That’s why it’s so important to regularly get tested for STDs if you’ve had vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Gonorrhea symptoms in women are usually mild and can be easily mistaken for a UTI or vaginal infection. They can include:

  • Pain or burning when you pee

  • The urge to pee more than usual

  • Unusual vaginal discharge

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods

  • Painful sex

  • Pain in your belly

  • A fever

You can also get gonorrhea in your butt, usually from receiving anal sex. Symptoms aren’t common, but you might notice:

  • An itchy or sore anus (butthole)

  • Discharge or bleeding

  • Painful bowel movements

Fun fact: Gonorrhea symptoms in women are most likely to show up in the morning.

If you notice any of these symptoms, if your partner has been diagnosed with gonorrhea or another STD, or if your partner has symptoms, check in with your doctor or nurse or your local Planned Parenthood health center right away.

What are gonorrhea symptoms in men?

Most men with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms. If they do get symptoms, they usually show up between 2 and 14 days after having sex with someone who’s infected. Symptoms can also show up weeks later.

Even without symptoms, if you have gonorrhea and you don’t get it treated, it can lead to other health problems. Untreated gonorrhea can damage your reproductive system, increase your risk of getting or giving HIV, cause epididymitis, or lead to infertility. In rare cases, it can spread to your blood or joints. That’s why it’s so important to regularly get tested for STDs if you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Gonorrhea symptoms in men can include:

  • Burning when you pee

  • The urge to pee more than usual

  • Pus or white, yellow, or green discharge coming from your penis

  • Swelling or redness at the opening of your penis

  • Pain and/or swelling in one or both of your testicles

You can also get gonorrhea in your butt, usually from receiving anal sex. Symptoms aren’t common, but you might notice:

  • An itchy or sore anus (butthole)

  • Discharge or bleeding

  • Painful bowel movements

Fun fact: gonorrhea symptoms in men show up most often in the morning.

If you notice any of these symptoms, if your partner has been diagnosed with gonorrhea or another STD, or if your partner has symptoms, check in with your doctor or nurse or your local Planned Parenthood health center right away.

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