What all sexually active women should know about gonorrhea

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A big risk of genital gonorrhea is that, left untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in people with uteruses, which can lead to infertility and/or long-term pelvic pain. Photo: Pexels


(Gabrielle Kassel/ Shape) — Question: How many times have you thought or talked about gonorrhea since you started having sex? Odds are, your answer is “basically never” or “only while watching Mean Girls.”

As a society, we’re still pretty hush-hush around the topic of sexually transmitted infections. And the experts in the STI advocacy sphere aren’t exactly focusing their efforts on gonorrhea — there just aren’t gonorrhea-positive influencers the way there are for viral STIs like herpes and HIV, for example.

Given all that, this statistic may shock you: In 2019, gonorrhea cases rose to an all-time high in the United States for the sixth year in a row, with a total of 616,392 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent STI report. That’s a lot.

So, uh… how do you know if you’re part of that statistic, exactly? Glad you asked! Below, health professionals answer all your pressing questions about gonorrhea, including: what is gonorrhea, what do gonorrhea symptoms look like, how do you take a gonorrhea test, what do you do if you test positive, and so much more. (…)

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