Think may have been exposed to gonorrhea? Here’s what you need to know.

What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. The bacteria infect the urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen through the penis. Gonorrhea can also infect the throat, anus, testicles, prostate and bladder and, in rare cases, the eyes.

How is gonorrhea spread?

Gonorrhea is spread quite easily. You can pick up or pass on gonorrhea through oral or anal sex.

How do I know if I have gonorrhea?

  • Symptoms arrive one to three weeks after infection. You may experience a burning sensation during urination, or there may be a pus-like discharge from your penis. Some guys experience a painful swelling of the testicles called epididymitis.
  • Guys who have bottomed with a gonorrhea-infected partner often experience anal discomfort or discharge. In rare cases, gonorrhea can appear in the throats of men who perform oral sex on guys infected with Gonorrhea.
  • Some guys don’t experience any symptoms at all. This doesn’t mean they’re not contagious. If you think you’ve been exposed to gonorrhea, get tested.

How do I test for gonorrhea?

Be honest with a health care professional about your sexual history and symptoms, and ask for a physical exam. You may be asked to give a sample of your urine or some fluid may be collected from your penis, anus or throat.

What do I do if I have gonorrhea?

  • If you test positive for gonorrhea, you’ll get a prescription for antibiotics. Follow the instructions exactly and make sure you take all the pills. If you skip some pills, or don’t finish them all, the infection may not be cured.
  • Don’t kiss, have anal sex or have oral sex if you have symptoms or are being treated for gonorrhea.
  • Don’t kiss, have anal sex or have oral sex with anyone who has symptoms or who may have recently been exposed to gonorrhea.
  • Having gonorrhea once will not make you immune to another infection. You will be reinfected if you are exposed again.
  • Talk to the guys you’ve had oral or anal sex with during the past couple of months so they can be examined, tested and treated.

How do I protect myself?

  • Regular use of condoms will reduce your chances of getting gonorrhea and other STIs.
  • PrEP, while effective at preventing HIV transmission, does not protect against other STIs such as gonorrhea.
  • Limiting the number of different guys you have sex with will also reduce your risk. If you have numerous partners, get tested regularly.
  • Don’t have sex with a guy if he has symptoms or if he is being treated for gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea and HIV

  • Having any STI or having sex with someone who has an STI will increase your risk of picking up HIV.
  • If you already have HIV, having gonorrhea may increase your viral load, increasing the chances that you’ll pass HIV on to others.
  • Regular use of condoms will reduce the risk of picking up or passing on both gonorrhea and HIV.