Bacteria from an infected sex partner causes the infection. This can happen during oral, genital, or anal sex.

Risk Factors

The infection is most common in people under 24 years old. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Being sexually active
  • Prior STIs
  • Having a new sex partner
  • Having more than 1 sex partner
  • Having a partner with an STI
  • Having sex without a condom



Most people do not have symptoms.

In men, symptoms may include:

  • Pain when passing urine
  • Pus exiting the penis
  • Scrotal pain or swelling

In women, symptoms may include:

  • A change in vaginal discharge
  • Pain or bleeding during sex or between periods
  • Belly pain
  • Vaginal redness or pain
  • Pain when passing urine
Male Genitourinary System
Prostate Gland
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Female Reproductive System Organs
Female Reproductive Organs
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The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Tests for cause of infection may be done with:

  • A swab of the penis, cervix, throat, or rectum
  • Urine tests



Antibiotics are used to treat the infection. Sexual partners should also be treated or the infection will continue to recur.


The risk of this problem may be lowered by:

  • Abstaining from oral, anal, or genital sex.
  • Limiting sex to 1 partner
  • Using latex condoms during sex

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.