The disease is caused by the?gonorrhea bacteria?Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and is sometimes called “the clap” — for reasons unknown — or “the drip,” because of the vaginal, penile, or rectal discharge it can cause.
Signs and Symptoms of Gonorrhea
- Strong-smelling?vaginal discharge
- Pain and burning while peeing
- Peeing more often than usual
- Pain during vaginal sex
- Sore throat
- Fever and severe lower?abdominal pain, if the infection has spread to the fallopian tubes and stomach area
- Pain and burning while peeing
- Peeing more often than usual
- White, yellow, or green discharge from the penis
- Red or swollen urethral opening
- Sore throat
Causes and Risk Factors of Gonorrhea
- Being a sexually active female under 25
- Being a man who has sex with men
- Having a new sex partner
- Having multiple sex partners or having sex with someone who has multiple sex partners
- Not using condoms consistently or correctly
- Having a history of gonorrhea or another sexually transmitted disease
How Is Gonorrhea Diagnosed?
If you think you may have gonorrhea, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider. Healthcare providers at public health or STD clinics and Planned Parenthood can also perform gonorrhea tests.
At-home test kits are also available for both men and women who wish to test themselves for gonorrhea. To perform the test, you will need to collect a urine sample or take a swab from an affected area. You then mail the sample to a specified lab, and a notification for a positive or negative result is usually sent via email or text message. This type of test is available from companies including LetsGetChecked.com and Nurx, or at number of?websites listed by GoodRx, with prices starting around $80 for a testing kit.
Since a person may have gonorrhea without displaying symptoms, regular testing can help to detect the disease before it causes complications. This is particularly important for people who are at increased risk of contracting the disease, defined by the CDC as those who have a new sexual partner, more than one sex partner, a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), previous or coexisting sexual infections, or those who are using condoms inconsistently outside a monogamous relationship.
- Sexually active women under 25 should be tested once yearly.
- Sexually active women over 25 who are at increased risk should be tested once yearly.
- All pregnant women under 25 should be tested early in their pregnancy, as should pregnant women over 25 if they are at increased risk.
- Men who have sex with men should be tested at least once yearly, regardless of condom use.
- Men who have sex with men and are at increased risk should get tested every three to six months.
- People living with HIV should be tested for gonorrhea at their first HIV evaluation, and subsequently at least once yearly.
- People with HIV who are at increased risk for gonorrhea should be screened more than once yearly (depending on individual risk behaviors and the local epidemiology)
Prognosis of Gonorrhea
Duration of Gonorrhea
Treatment and Medication Options for Gonorrhea
You should not have sex for seven days after treatment, and you should refrain from having sex with partners who have not been treated for gonorrhea until after they have been tested and, if necessary, treated.
Alternative and Complementary Therapies
Gonorrhea is curable with antibiotics, provided the medications are taken as prescribed; there aren’t any alternative therapies that have been proven to cure the disease.
While the Listerine study raises intriguing possibilities, it does not prove that Listerine cures gonorrhea. People who test positive for gonorrhea should still be treated with antibiotics. In addition, Listerine is not intended to be used in body cavities other than the mouth.
Prevention of Gonorrhea
The only way to absolutely keep yourself safe from catching gonorrhea is to avoid having vaginal, anal, or oral sex. However, since many people wish to have sex at some point in their lives, that may be unrealistic.
- Using a condom?during vaginal or anal sex
- Using a condom (for men) or a dental dam (for women) during oral sex
- Thoroughly washing?sex toys?— or changing the condom on them — before a new person uses them
- Not having sex with anyone until you’ve finished your treatment (if you are currently being treated for gonorrhea)
Also, having sex with fewer partners can help reduce your chances of getting gonorrhea.
Preventing Gonorrhea in Infants
Complications of Gonorrhea
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Ectopic pregnancy, in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, possibly leading to internal bleeding or a ruptured fallopian tube and miscarriage
Disseminated Gonococcal Infection
Gonorrhea can also spread throughout the body, in a condition called systemic, or disseminated, gonococcal infection (DGI).
Research and Statistics: How Many People Have Gonorrhea?
The number of reported cases of gonorrhea can depend on many factors that go beyond the actual occurrence of the infection, including things like differences in screening practices in different locations or the use of different kinds of tests. Nonetheless, reported cases can still be a useful way to track the disease and identify areas where the infection is on the rise or in decline.
Black and Hispanic Americans and Gonorrhea
Chlamydia Causes Similar Symptoms
HIV Risk Rises With Untreated Gonorrhea
Resources We Love
If you are sexually active, whether or not you have gonorrhea, it’s important to educate yourself about safe sex and STDs. Take some time to learn how to practice safe sex, how often you should get tested for STDs and other genital infections, and familiarize yourself with what’s normal for your body. Here are some resources to get you started.
Browsing the ClinicalTrials.gov site is one way to stay up to date with the latest research on diagnosing, treating, and preventing gonorrhea.
This organization provides information about signs, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of gonorrhea. Many Planned Parenthood locations also offer tests for gonorrhea; you can find a health center near you on the Planned Parenthood website.
Additional reporting by Becky Upham.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
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