Gonorrhea is an infection caused by a sexually transmitted bacterium that infects both males and females. Gonorrhea most often affects the urethra, rectum or throat. In females, gonorrhea can also infect the cervix.
Gonorrhea is most commonly spread during vaginal, oral or anal sex. But babies of infected mothers can be infected during childbirth. In babies, gonorrhea most commonly affects the eyes.
Abstaining from sex, using a condom if you have sex and being in a mutually monogamous relationship are the best ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Globally, there are an estimated 78 million new cases of gonorrhea diagnosed each year. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 820,000 new gonorrhea infections each year. However, not all cases are diagnosed and reported; only 333,004 cases of gonorrhea were reported in the U.S. in 2013.
Gonorrhea is easily treated but can cause serious and sometimes permanent complications. Pelvic inflammatory disease occurs in women when the gonorrhea infection affects their uterus or fallopian tubes. The most serious complication associated with pelvic inflammatory disease is infertility.