Every sexually active woman, regardless of age or relationship status, is at risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). One common STD is gonorrhea, which causes at least 1.6 million new cases in the United States every year.
As part of his commitment to women’s health, board-certified OB/GYN Daniel S. Kushner, MD, offers confidential STD screening at his private practice in White Plains and Queens, New York. If you’re a sexually active woman, take a moment to learn more about gonorrhea and the signs that you may have it.
What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea, a bacterial infection that spreads through sexual contact, is one of the oldest known STDs and is sometimes called “the clap.” You can get gonorrhea by having unprotected anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
The bacteria thrive in warm locations and most often affect the cervix, vagina, urethra, rectum, or throat. It’s also possible for gonorrhea to affect your eyes and joints.
Although both males and females can get gonorrhea, it infects women more frequently. Pregnant women infected with gonorrhea can transmit the disease to their babies during vaginal delivery.
Any sexually active person can get gonorrhea, but your risk is greater if you:
- Are in your 20s
- Have sex with someone new
- Have sex with multiple partners or with a partner who has other partners
- Have a personal history of gonorrhea or other STDs
You can protect yourself from gonorrhea by using condoms, getting tested for STDs, asking your partner(s) to get tested for STDs, and not having sex with anyone experiencing symptoms of gonorrhea.
What are the signs of this STD?
Gonorrhea rarely comes with noticeable signs, especially in the early stages of the disease. In fact, only about 20% of women infected with gonorrhea experience symptoms. These six signs and symptoms may be present:
- Swelling/redness of the vulva and genitals
- Spotting or irregular bleeding
- Burning/painful/more frequent urination
- Yellowish vaginal discharge
- Vaginal burning/itching or pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse or spotting/bleeding after sex
Keep in mind that if gonorrhea affects other parts of your body, you may experience other symptoms, including a sore throat, anal itching or discharge, eye pain or sensitivity to light, eye discharge, swollen, sore joints.
What should I do if I’m worried about gonorrhea?
Whether you’re experiencing noticeable symptoms of gonorrhea or not, if you’re sexually active, it’s important to have routine STD screenings with Dr. Kushner. If left untreated, gonorrhea can negatively affect your fertility and cause other damage to your reproductive health.
STD screenings not only help protect your health, but they also protect the health of your sexual partner(s). Dr. Kushner follows the STD screening recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Annual gonorrhea and chlamydia testing for sexually active women under 25 and women over 25 with a new partner, multiple partners, or a partner with an STD
- At least one HIV screening for all people ages 13 to 64
- Early testing for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B for pregnant women
- Annual HIV testing for anyone who has unsafe sex or shares needles
If you test positive for gonorrhea, Dr. Kushner can treat the infection with antibiotics. Most other types of STDs can also be treated when caught early, and the sooner you start treatment, the more effective it is.
For confidential STD screening and treatment, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Kushner at his New York location most convenient to you.