If you’re sexually active, know the basics about gonorrhea
by Su McFay, RN
It’s been called the “clap” or the “drip”…or by its more technical term, “GC.” Whatever you call it, it’s gonorrhea.
Gonorrhea is a common and contagious sexually transmitted disease caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria that is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 120 out of every 100,000 people are infected with gonorrhea.
As with all STDs, anyone who is sexually active is at risk for gonorrhea. For both men and women, symptoms can be “silent,” or so mild that they may be ignored or mistaken for another ailment. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause serious, long-term complications…like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to infertility in women. Men can develop epididymitis, a painful testicular infection, which can also lead to infertility. Additionally, gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints in something called disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI).
Other symptoms can include – but aren’t limited to – painful or frequent urination, genital discharge, and genital pain or itching. But again, because the infection may be silent…it can’t be diagnosed by symptoms alone. The only way to be certain of your status is to get tested.
People infected with gonorrhea are often co-infected with chlamydia, so it’s a good idea to get treated for both infections at the same time. The sooner these infections are detected, the sooner they can be treated and cured with antibiotics…before any permanent damage to your health occurs.
The best way to avoid gonorrhea is to use condoms, reduce your number of sexual partners and enjoy a long-term monogamous relationship in which both people have been tested. Remember, it’s your health…and that’s something to clap about!