For Teens: Understanding Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease or STD that spreads when body fluids are passed during sex. Infections can occur in the genitals (vaginal sex), anus (anal sex), and throat (oral sex). It's very common in teenagers who are 15 years and older. Symptoms may be mild, or really painful. Gonorrhea can be cured, but early treatment is important. Otherwise, it can lead to sterility.

Boy leaving bathroom holding hands over genitals. What to look for

Signs of gonorrhea usually appear a few days or weeks after you catch it. Common symptoms include:

  • Discharge from the penis, vagina, or rectum.

  • Pain or burning during urination.

  • A sore throat if it was caught during oral sex.

  • Pain in the rectum if gonorrhea was caught during anal sex.


Gonorrhea can be treated and cured with antibiotics. To keep from catching it again, your partner must be treated, too. And don’t have sex until you’re told it’s OK.

If you don’t get treated

Gonorrhea can spread through the body and cause swollen and painful joints. It can also scar reproductive organs and cause sterility. Females should look out for symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

What is PID?

PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) is an infection in women. It can cause mild or severe symptoms. These include pain in the lower belly, fever, and pain during sex. Over time, PID can damage the reproductive organs and cause sterility.


Make sure your partner is treated. Otherwise, they can pass the disease back to you, to others, or both!