Commonly referred to as the clap, gonorrhea is one of the most common but treatable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Caused by a bacteria, gonorrhea can infect the urethra in both men and women and the uterus and cervix in women. The STD is easily treated and cured with a course of antibiotics, which is good because untreated gonorrhea can lead to permanent damage in both men and women, potentially affecting fertility.

Despite the prevalence of gonorrhea, many people have questions or may be confused about the disease, its symptoms and how to treat it. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about gonorrhea:

What does gonorrhea look like?

Men infected with gonorrhea generally are more likely to display obvious symptoms than women who have gonorrhea. For men who do show symptoms, one of the most common obvious symptoms is pain and swelling of the testicles. Other symptoms that appear in both men and women include frequent urination and burning or pain while peeing.

What are the early signs of gonorrhea?

While many people who contract gonorrhea never show symptoms, the most likely obvious symptoms will be genital discharge, painful urination, swollen testicles or bleeding between menstrual periods.

What happens if you have gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea, often called the clap, is a bacterial infection passed from person to person during sex. Gonorrhea is transmitted through vaginal fluids, semen and pre-cum and can infect sexual organs as well as the throat and, rarely, the eyes. The symptoms vary between men and women, but the most common symptoms include discharge, painful, frequent urination and testicular or abdominal pain.

Is gonorrhea curable?

Yes, gonorrhea can be easily treated and cleared up with a course of antibiotics. Some strains are drug-resistant, so your doctor will decide if you need just one pill or a shot plus a pill. If you do find out you have gonorrhea, it’s very important to contact those you’ve had sexual contact with because the condition is easily spread but easily treated.

Would I know if I had gonorrhea?

Not all people with gonorrhea have obvious physical symptoms, and some people mistake the signs of gonorrhea for other health problems. More men than women will display symptoms; these usually include discharge from the penis, pain or swelling in the testicles and painful urination. For women, in addition to discharge and painful urination, bleeding between periods or heavier periods may show up.

Does gonorrhea go away on its own?

No, gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that must be treated. Allowing gonorrhea to go untreated can lead to serious health problems for both men and women. The infection can spread to other reproductive organs, such as the uterus or fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which can impact a woman’s ability to have children. For those with penises, gonorrhea can spread infection to the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles, causing pain.

How can I treat gonorrhea at home?

The only way to treat gonorrhea is to see a doctor or nurse and take the prescribed course of antibiotics. Untreated gonorrhea can cause a host of serious long-term health issues, including infertility in both men and women.

Can gonorrhea go undetected for years?

Yes, one reason why the disease is so common is that many people who have gonorrhea are unaware they have it and unknowingly spread it to their sexual partners. However, untreated gonorrhea can cause serious health problems, including infertility and increased risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

How long can gonorrhea go undetected in females?

Generally, women are less likely than men to show symptoms of gonorrhea, and many women who have it never become aware. Most people who do begin showing obvious signs of infection do so after about a week, and women who do not show apparent symptoms are at a higher risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease, which can impact their fertility for the rest of their lives.

Can you get rid of gonorrhea naturally?

No, there is no way to successfully treat gonorrhea with home remedies or natural methods. The only way to cure gonorrhea is by taking antibiotics.

Can you get gonorrhea from a toilet seat?

No, the only way to contract gonorrhea, commonly called the clap, is through direct contact with the vaginal fluids, semen or pre-cum of an infected person. Gonorrhea is most frequently transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral sex, though it can also be spread to the eye via infected fluids and from a mother to a baby during birth.

Can you die from gonorrhea?

While it’s very unlikely that gonorrhea would directly lead to death, untreated gonorrhea in women can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which could lead to an ectopic pregnancy, a condition that can be fatal. Having gonorrhea also raises a person’s risk of developing other STIs, such as HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and in very rare cases, gonorrhea can spread to the blood, which can cause a life-threatening infection.

Can you get gonorrhea from receiving oral?

Yes, but it’s much more likely to pass along gonorrhea through vaginal or anal sex. However, there are several ways to contract gonorrhea from receiving oral sex, including getting oral from a partner who has contracted gonorrhea in their throat.

Will amoxicillin treat gonorrhea?

Which antibiotic is best depends on each patient and the strain of gonorrhea they have. Most doctors recommend treatment with ceftriaxone alone or in combination with azithromycin or doxycycline. Patients who are diagnosed with multiple sexually transmitted infections simultaneously, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, often are treated with amoxicillin, which can cure both infections in about a week. But because many drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea have emerged, amoxicillin has fallen out of favor for many doctors as a standalone treatment for gonorrhea.

Is gonorrhea only sexually transmitted?

The only non-sexual way to transmit gonorrhea is between a pregnant woman and a baby during birth. Gonorrhea can spread easily during vaginal, anal and oral sex.

How quickly does gonorrhea clear up?

Most people who are showing signs of gonorrhea when they begin treatment with antibiotics notice an improvement within a couple of days, but it’s important to finish all medications prescribed by your healthcare provider even if your symptoms have cleared up. Also, you must wait at least 7 days after you’ve begun treatment to have sex again, as you may still be able to pass the disease along within that time.

Can gonorrhea be treated without antibiotics?

No, gonorrhea is a bacterial infection, so the only way to cure it is through antibiotics, such as ceftriaxone and azithromycin.

Can untreated gonorrhea kill you?

While it’s rare, gonorrhea is a bacteria that can spread to areas other than the ones that were initially infected. This means that it’s possible for gonorrhea to spread to the blood, which could lead to a life-threatening infection.

Does gonorrhea smell fishy?

While gonorrhea can cause genital discharge in both men and women, this discharge does not generally carry an odor.

Can you have gonorrhea and test negative?

Gonorrhea generally is a quickly developing infection, and those who develop symptoms will generally do so within 2 to 5 days. But if you are exposed to gonorrhea and get tested the very next day, it’s possible you would test negative, though the short incubation period means that’s not a likely scenario.

Does oral gonorrhea clear on its own?

No, oral gonorrhea, just as with gonorrhea in any other part of the body, is caused by a bacteria, so it will not simply run its course. The only way to get rid of it is by taking antibiotics.

Is there a home test for gonorrhea?

Yes, many home test kits are now available for a wide range of sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhea. Most home test kits for gonorrhea involve urine samples and/or vaginal swabs.