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Gonorrhea (sometimes known as "the clap" or "the drip") is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

How is gonorrhea spread?

Gonorrhea is spread through unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal, or oral) with an infected partner.

What are the symptoms?

Many people may not have any symptoms. Some people may experience the following symptoms 2-7 days or longer after exposure.

  • Discharge from vagina or penis
  • Burning or pain when passing urine
  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex
  • Lower stomach pain
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or itching
  • Burning or itching around tip of penis
  • Pain in testicles
  • Sore throat 

How is gonorrhea diagnosed?

  • Swabs can be taken from the infected area (cervix, urethra, anus, or throat)
  • A urine sample can be collected 
  • Cervical swabs can be done when a Pap test is being performed 

How is gonorrhea treated?

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. It is important to take the medication as directed.  It is also important to not have sex (oral, anal, and/or vaginal) until you and your partner(s) have finished all medication and all test results after treatment are negative.  If you have unprotected sex with your partner(s) and they have not been treated, you can get infected again.

Is follow-up needed?

Yes.  Clients will be asked to return to their doctor or to The Clinic for a repeat test after finishing medication.  

What about partners?

People who test positive for gonorrhea are asked to tell all sexual partner(s) so they can be tested and/or treated.  A Public Health Nurse is able to help contact sexual partners as needed. 

Things to think about…

If not treated, gonorrhea can result in:

  • Gonorrhea may spread to uterus and fallopian tubes (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease).
  • Risk of an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.  
  • Difficulty becoming pregnant
  • Pelvic pain
  • Reiter’s Syndrome (rashes, sores and joint pain)
  • Pain in testicles

Gonorrhea is often associated with other untreated or undetected sexually transmitted infections.  

How can I reduce my chances of getting and spreading gonorrhea?

  • Use condoms or a dental dam every time, even if you are using another form of birth control
  • Do not share sex toys

Get tested:

  • After any type of unprotected sex
  • After your last partner and before a new partner

To help protect against STIs, get vaccinated for hepatitis A, B and HPV.


Contact Us

For more information, please contact The Clinic at 519-663-5317.

Date of creation: September 2, 2011
Last modified on: October 26, 2023


1The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada Retrieved from
2Canadian Federation for Sexual Health Retrieved from