Here’s some unsexy news about getting it on: STD rates are at an all-time high. For guys, gonorrhea is becoming increasingly common. Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that gonorrhea rates have doubled in guys from 2016 to 2017.
Thankfully, gonorrhea is treatable with antibiotics, and will clear up within several days of being treated, according to Dr. Gabriel Rebick, clinical assistant professor of infectious diseases and immunology at NYU Langone Health. However, regular STD testing and speedy treatment can help stop the spread, which makes it vital to head to the doctor once you think something is wrong. Although some guys with gonorrhea won’t exhibit any symptoms, there are certain tell-tale signs, particularly as the infection progresses, says Rebick.
Left untreated, gonorrhea infections could spread to the scrotum, prostate, testes, or more rarely, your blood, he explains. Once it spreads, the infection could cause scarring in the epididymis, a part of the testicle that stores and carries sperm, and possible result in infertility.
Here’s are four gonorrhea symptoms you should watch out for.
1. Discharge from your penis.
“Discharge is by far the most common sign of the infection,” says Rebick. Discharge may be thin or thick, depending on the guy. According to the CDC, guys may experience discharge within two weeks of being infected. Although color and consistency vary, no amount of discharge is normal, says Rebick. You should head to the doctor if you experience discharge of any sort.
2. Your butt itches.
Gonorrhea can also affect the rectum, which may cause anal itching and discharge or blood, according to the Mayo Clinic. Rebick says some people may experience diarrhea and pain when going to the bathroom.
3. A sore throat.
“It’s important to know that you can get gonorrhea from oral sex too,” says Rebick. He says many people who develop gonorrhea in their throat don’t have symptoms. However, some may experience a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
4. Pain or swelling.
Some guys may not have initial symptoms when they contract gonorrhea, Rebick says. But once the infection spreads to surrounding areas, like the scrotum and testicle, guys could develop an inflamed epididymis, which would be accompanied by groin pain, writes the Mayo Clinic.