Questions About Gonorrhea

How do I know if I have chlamydia or gonorrhea?

A person who has chlamydia and/or gonorrhea may not know that they are infected. Getting tested is the best way to know whether or not you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that will either give someone symptoms or not give them symptoms when they are infected; symptoms also vary depending on what part of the body is infected. So even if you can’t see or feel the symptoms of chlamydia and/or gonorrhea, the infection could still be there. Only 25% of women and 50% of men who become infected develop symptoms; that is only 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 2 boys actually experience symptoms.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea can still be transmitted from an infected person to a partner(s) during oral, anal, or vaginal sex even when no symptoms are present. If you are among those few who develop symptoms (such as painful urination, odd or smelly discharge, or abdominal pain), you will start to notice them between 1 to 3 weeks after you were infected. Therefore, men and women can be infected for a very long period of time and not know it until the infection results in health problems. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are both easily tested for and treated. To learn more visit “the symptoms” link on the homepage. A list of public testing locations is also available on this website.  Simply go to the “Testing Location” link on the homepage under the “Resources” tab and select your county.

Can gonorrhea and chlamydia cause infertility?

Yes. Gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause a woman to be unable to have a baby. Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydial infections can cause serious, permanent health problems in both women and men. When these infections are left untreated they can cause women to become infertile (unable to get pregnant and/or give birth to a baby) and men to become sterile (incapable of reproduction). If a pregnant woman is infected, she may give the infection to her baby as the baby passes through the birth canal during delivery. This can cause blindness or a life-threatening respiratory infection in the baby. Getting tested is very important as these infections can be easily cured with antibiotics before serious health problems develop. To learn more go to the “Risks” link on the homepage.

If your partner has gonorrhea or chlamydia, is it possible to have unprotected sex and not get these infections?

While it is possible to have vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner and not get infected, it’s unlikely. For more information, check out the “Prevention” link on the homepage.

What symptoms can develop if you get chlamydia or gonorrhea after giving oral sex?

Most people with a pharyngeal (throat) infection don’t experience any symptoms, although a sore throat can occur. When you go in for testing, be sure to ask for a throat swab in addition to other testing that is offered. To find a testing location near you, simply go to the “Testing Location” link on the homepage under the “Resources” tab and select your county.

What if I have sex with a person(s) of my same sex, do I have to worry about chlamydia and gonorrhea?

Yes. Contact with infected fluids and transmission can still occur when a person has sex with someone of their same sex. The bacteria can be transmitted in bodily fluids during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Both men and women can become infected and transmit chlamydia and gonorrhea. Any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia and/or gonorrhea. To learn more go to the “Risks” link on this website.

Can I get chlamydia or gonorrhea from a toilet, or from sharing something like a bar of soap?

Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be transmitted in bodily fluids during vaginal, anal, or oral sex; any sexually active person can be infected. Bodily fluids containing chlamydia and/or gonorrhea must be transmitted from person to person in order for an infection to occur. Therefore, infected fluids on a toilet seat or a bar of soap cannot transmit chlamydia and/or gonorrhea to other toilet or soap users. To learn more go to the “Risks” link on the homepage.

Can I get chlamydia or gonorrhea from a swimming pool or hot tub?

Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be transmitted in bodily fluids during vaginal, anal, or oral sex; any sexually active person can be infected. Bodily fluids containing chlamydia and/or gonorrhea must be transmitted from person to person in order for an infection to occur. Therefore, infected fluids floating in a pool or hot tub cannot transmit chlamydia and/or gonorrhea to other swimmers. To learn more go to the “Risks” link on the homepage.

How are chlamydia and gonorrhea linked to HIV?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is transmitted through the following four fluids: 1) blood, 2) semen, 3) vaginal fluids, and 4) breast milk. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be transmitted in bodily fluids during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Women infected with chlamydia are up to five times more likely to become infected with HIV, if exposed. In addition, people with gonorrhea can more easily contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV-infected people with gonorrhea can transmit HIV more easily to someone else than if they did not have gonorrhea. For more information on HIV, take a peek at the “Resources” tab on the homepage.

Can I get chlamydia or gonorrhea from sharing food and/or drinks with an infected individual?

No. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are transmitted in bodily fluids during vaginal, anal, or oral sex; any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia and/or gonorrhea. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea can infect the throat; however, they cannot be transmitted from one infected throat to another through sharing food and beverages. To learn more go to the “Risks” link on the homepage.

What are the long-term health effects of chlamydia and gonorrhea?

Untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea infections can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men. In women, the damage caused by the STDs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancies (a pregnancy outside the uterus). In men, infection sometimes spreads to the epididymis (ducts attached to the testicles where sperm mature and are stored) causing pain, fever, and rarely, sterility. To learn more go to the “Risks” link on the homepage.

If I can’t visibly see or feel gonorrhea, could I still be infected?

Both men and women may experience asymptomatic (without symptoms) infections; symptoms will vary depending on what part of the body is infected. Women are the most likely to experience an asymptomatic gonorrhea infection. Chlamydia is known as a “silent” disease because about three-quarters of infected women and about half of infected men have NO symptoms. So yes, even if you can’t see or feel the symptoms of chlamydia and/or gonorrhea, the infection could still be there. To learn more go to the “Symptoms” link on the homepage.