Gonorrhea, also called "clap" or "drip," is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Gonorrhea is a serious infection that is caught by having sex with an infected person. Both men and women can get gonorrhea. The infection is easily spread and most often occurs in people who have many sex partners.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

In women

Most women do not have symptoms. When symptoms are present, they often include:

In men

  • White or yellow discharge from the penis
  • Pain or burning when passing urine (the burning sensation can be severe)
  • Throat infection and pain

What causes gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection. A person can become infected when the bacteria enter any opening in the body, including the penis, anus, vagina, or mouth. The most common site of infection in women is the cervix, the opening from the vagina to the womb. In men, the infection most often starts in the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.

How can I know if I have gonorrhea?

If you think you have gonorrhea, or any STI, contact your health care provider. He or she will examine you and perform tests, if necessary, to determine if you have an STI.

As part of the examination for gonorrhea, women are often given a pelvic exam. The doctor will take a sample of fluid from the cervix for testing; in men, the doctor will take a sample of fluid from the penis. You may also be given a throat or anal culture to see if the infection is in your throat or anus. You may need to wait for several days for your test results to come back from the lab. The cultures can also be taken from a urine test. Your provider will discuss which way is the best way to check for an infection in your particular situation.

Gonorrhea and chlamydia, another common STI, often occur together, so you may be tested and treated for both.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/14/2015.


  • Ram S, Rice PA. Gonococcal Infections. In: Kasper D, Fauci A, Hauser S, Longo D, Jameson J, Loscalzo J. eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2015. library.ccf.org Accessed 5/4/2015.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gonorrhea-CDC Fact Sheet Accessed 5/4/2015.
  • March of Dimes Foundation. Pregnancy Complications: Gonorrhea Accessed 5/4/2015.

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