Gonorrhea — Hard to Spell, Easy to Catch!

Okay, this may sound very familiar to the blog about chlamydia and that’s because chlamydia and gonorrhea are very similar.


Gonorrhea is a very common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and we see it often here at New Generation Health Center.

What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae

How Do People Get Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is passed from one person to another through female vaginal fluids and male ejaculatory fluids (cum and pre-cum) of people who are infected. Although it is most commonly passed through sexual intercourse (penis in vagina or penis in anus), it can also be transmitted (passed from one person to another) orally (mouth on penis/vagina/anus). Meaning, it’s possible to get gonorrhea in your vagina, penis, anus, or your mouth, depending on how you have sex. Gonorrhea can also be spread from an untreated mother to her baby during childbirth. However, if a pregnant woman is receiving prenatal care she is tested and treated for any STD’s making this type of transmission far less common.

You can’t catch gonorrhea from a towel, doorknob, or toilet seat.

*Anus is the butthole

What are the Symptoms of Gonorrhea?

Unfortunately, most people don’t experience any symptoms and therefore don’t know they have it. The lack of symptoms is why gonorrhea is such a common infection – it is easily passed unknowingly!

But for those who do have symptoms, they usually go as follows:

For women symptoms may include vaginal discharge; pain and/or burning with urination (peeing); vaginal bleeding between periods; and/or pain during sex. Women with gonorrhea are also at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, even if symptoms are not present or are mild. That’s why it’s super important to get tested regularly.

For men symptoms may include white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis and/or pain with urination (peeing). Sometimes men with gonorrhea can get painful or swollen testicles.

For both men and women, anal infections may not cause any symptoms.  But if symptoms are present it may include discharge, itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowl movements (pain when pooping).

Infections in the throat may cause a sore throat but usually cause no symptoms.


How is Gonorrhea Treated?

Fortunately, gonorrhea is curable. Just 2 pills and an injection (shot) of antibiotics and no bodily fluid exchanges for a week (meaning no sex or sex with a condom) and it’s gone like you never had it. But treating it once doesn’t mean you can’t get it again in the future if you are re-exposed. That’s why it’s important that any partners you have also get tested and/or treated and that you use condoms to protect yourself in the future!

What is the Test for Gonorrhea?

Sterile Urine Cup

EASY!  Pee in a cup!!! That’s all we ask you to do here at NGHC anyway. Other clinics may take a swab (use a big Q-Tip) of the vagina, penis, or anus. The sample (pee or swab) is then sent to a lab where it takes about a week to process and get the results.

*If someone is on the receiving end of anal sex (meaning a penis is being put into their butt) a swab will be used to test instead of urine.  

We recommend that sexually active teens and young adults test for gonorrhea at least once a year. More if they have more than one partner or are having unprotected sex (sex without a condom).

Routine testing is important (even if no symptoms are present) because if gonorrhea is left untreated it can lead to a more serious infection that can cause infertility (not being able to get pregnant) in the future.

rectal-cultureHow Do You Prevent Gonorrhea?

Play Safe

Luckily, this is also easy! Use condoms. Condoms prevent the sharing of fluids. No exposure to fluids = no gonorrhea! Also, talk to your partner(s) about their STD status. If they haven’t been tested recently, you may want to wait to have sex.

Get tested! Use Condoms!

Check out San Francisco City Clinic for more information!

In happiness & health,


Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonia, MD

Staying Safe All Summer Long

Ahh summer… a time for picnics in the park, fun in the sun, and summer romance! With school getting out and summer in full swing many people will have a lot more time for a summer lovin’!


That being said, this week’s blog is all about how to keep yourself safe and protected from unintended pregnancy, STDs, and HIV.

First tip, consider stopping by New Gen (or your local sexual health clinic) to get some routine STD testing. All that is required is that you pee in a cup! The urine will then be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea – two very common infections. These infections are passed from one person to another through female vaginal fluids and male ejaculatory fluids (cum and pre-cum) of people who are infected. Although it is most commonly passed through sexual intercourse (penis in vagina or penis in anus), it can also be transmitted (passed from one person to another) orally (mouth on penis/vagina/anus). Unfortunately, people with these infections don’t always know they have them because they often don’t have any symptoms. We recommend this test about once a year (under the age of 25) or if you have had any new partner(s) since your last test. The good news is that both infections are completely CURABLE with antibiotics (meaning after you complete the quick and easy treatment, it’s like you never had it in the first place). So why not take some time now to make sure you are tested and treated before any summer flings?

P.S. Want to know more about chlamydia? Click here! And I just realized I haven’t written about gonorrhea yet. Perhaps that’ll be the next post – unless there is something else you are dying to know about first. Let me know!!!

Okay, so although chlamydia and gonorrhea are totally treatable, they are also totally preventable (along with other sexually transmitted infections). You guessed it: condoms! Remember that condoms require special care in hot weather. Condoms need to be stored at room temperature away from direct sunlight to prevent the breakdown of the latex. For this reason, you should not store a condom in your wallet and definitely not in a hot car. Ideally you would carry your condoms in a bag or backpack but you can also keep a condom or two in a front pocket short-term without any keys or other items that may puncture the condom. If you haven’t used the condoms by the time you get back home, put them back in a cool, dry storage space. You can also buy a condom case or reuse items like mint tins (like the Altoids container) for this purpose.

altoids caseWhat about birth control? Well, many of you will have totally different schedules in the summer. For those of you using the pill, patch or ring, you may have to put some extra effort into remembering to take your pills or to change your patch or ring. If you usually take your pill in the morning before school, now you might need to set an alarm instead. Another option is to sign up at Bedsider.org/reminders to set up an email or text reminder to take your birth control. There are even apps for smartphones that will remind you– “myPill” and “Ring Timer” are some examples.  It’s important to keep on schedule with your birth control because if you don’t, it is less effective and you become more at risk for pregnancy.


Summer is also a time that many people go on long trips. Pill, patch, or ring users need to make sure you have enough birth control to get you through your trip. You can call your pharmacy and see how many refills you have, and if you’re on your last refill, call the clinic to see about getting your prescription renewed. If the Depo shot is your birth control of choice, you will want to make sure that your next shot appointment isn’t scheduled when you are going to be out of town. If it is, give New Gen (or your shot provider) a call and see if they can schedule the appointment before or after your trip, so that you stay covered!

Summer Heart

To all the ladies with an Implant or IUD, you’re all set for the summer!  You have a low-maintenance form of birth control and don’t need to stress about it until your 3 years (Implant), 5 years (Mirena IUD), or 10 years (Paragard IUD) are up! Safe summer lovin’ y’all!

In happiness & health,

Shawna & Angela

Reviewed by Andrea Raider, NP

Meet the Faces of New Generation Health Center: Part 3

It’s been a few weeks — you know what that means! Meet the Faces of New Generation Health Center: Part 3! I am especially excited to introduce these women because they have written several awesome blogs for JustAskShawna. So without further adieu meet Barbara, Angela, and Mei-Lani.

BarbaraI’m Barbara and I’ve been at NGHC since the end of September. I have never worked in any other health clinics– this is my first! I have always loved working with women and young people, and enjoy the more personal nature of reproductive health. Many young people have not yet had to deal with many medical issues, and so this particular kind of health is a key avenue into caring for our bodies and our relationships. It also inherently brings up many emotional and relationship-related issues for people, and I have a background in counseling and psychology so I find this super stimulating with every new client. I learned to speak Spanish five years ago when I lived with a host family in Argentina for a year.

In my spare time, I love to have conversations, cook, bake, travel and explore the outdoors. I particularly love camping, swimming and lying flat on my back in the sun on a nice grassy patch or stretch of beach. Dinner parties are also a favorite. I grew up on two islands (my mom on one and my dad on the other) in the Puget Sound, near Seattle. Then I went to college in a little school upstate from New York City. I don’t really remember any particular classes in school on reproductive health, other than vaguely covering the basics in health class. From this I sort of think my school must have had a pretty hands-off philosophy when it came to sex-ed. Luckily my mom was more than happy to share way too much with me from a very young age.

AngelaHola, my name is Angela! I joined the New Gen team in September as a Health Educator and am excited to support SF youth in taking charge of their sexual health. I’ve spent most of my life in the Bay Area, except for stints in South Africa, Pennsylvania and New York. In college I took classes on female sexuality and felt empowered to know how to keep my body, mind, and relationships healthy. After working as an outdoor educator for 3 years, I decided to switch gears and pursue my passion for sexual health. I worked at the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and earned a Masters degree in Health Education. Outside of work, I like to spend my time dancing, hiking and playing with my cats Muenster and Brie.

Mei2Hey there, my name is Mei-Lani. I’m a volunteer Health Educator that you might see in the clinic or maybe out in your school. I grew up loving the snow in Alaska, but moved to San Francisco for the culture, community, and to be around my family. I speak Spanish even though I am half Chinese. When I’m not in the clinic, you might find me out biking, cooking, running around outside, doing yoga, or taking pictures.

I got into working with teens after doing research with Chilean teens about what influenced their decisions on birth control and sexual health. It made me think a lot about how in the US there isn’t enough good info or comfortable teachers for teens to learn about sex. All I can remember about my high school sex ed was a handout on the pill and a teacher who passed around cauliflower to tell us that it was like genital warts (I still have a hard time eating cauliflower). I’m happy to be here to give you all the right info that lets you make your own decisions over your own health.

Aren’t these ladies awesome?? If you see them around the clinic don’t hesitate to say hello or ask them any questions you may have. Next month you’ll meet Jenny, Leslie, and Tino!!! Stayed tuned!

And from everyone here at NGHC, we hope you have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend!

In happiness & health,