8 Things You Need to Know About Gonorrhea


Gonorrhea is known as an STD. That is to say, the disease, known as the Clap, is spread through sex. Some symptoms of this bacteria are well-known.

For men, this means:

  • It hurts to pee
  • There might be pus coming from the tip of the penis
  • A testicle is swollen and/or painful (less common)

For women, this means:

  • It hurts to pee
  • New or more vaginal discharge
  • New odor or color to vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding vaginally, not due to a period
  • Painful lower abdomen

These involve infections of the urethra, cervix (opening to the womb in women), testicles.

There's a lot more that gonorrhea can cause:

1. Gonorrhea can cause sore throats. Gonorrhea can infect the back of your throat. There are often no symptoms with an infection, but you should get tested and treated if you may have been infected. This can happen after oral-genital contact.

2. Gonorrhea can cause painful joints. Gonorrhea can lead to painful joint(s). It can cause a rash on your skin (often red or pink and raised) and many painful joints, especially the knee, wrist, and/or ankle. In a few, it can spread in the blood and infect a joint, making it painful. It is a relatively common cause of arthritis in young, sexually-active adults. It requires longer treatment than simple gonorrhea infections.

3. Gonorrhea can cause eye infections. Babies born to mothers with gonorrhea can develop an eye infection passed on at birth that should be treated immediately.

The baby may develop 2-4 days after birth, these symptoms:

  • red eyes
  • thick pus in the eyes
  • swollen eye lid

This eye infection can also happen in adults, but much less commonly.

4. Gonorrhea can cause infertility. It can make it hard for you to have a baby. This can be from an infection in your testicles called epididymitis, if you're male.

It can lead to scarring in your abdomen if you're female, affecting your ability to become pregnant. Especially dangerous is that gonorrhea can scar your fallopian tubes if untreated, leading to blockages and possibly a dangerous ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus).

5. Gonorrhea can cause abdominal infections. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease can be serious. It can cause damage to female reproductive organs - uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries - and lead to infertility. It can also lead to abdominal pain that is long lasting even after it's treated. The infection can cause scars in your abdomen, including your fallopian tubes, which can cause a pregnancy  stuck in your tubes - a possibly life-threatening ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb).

Symptoms of PID include: pain in the lower abdomen, fever, bad odor or new color to vaginal discharge, bleeding or pain with sex or when not having your period, burning when peeing.

6. Gonorrhea can make it hurt to poop. It can cause anal infections after anal sexual contact.

This can include an itchy butt, mucus in your stool, a discharge from your butt.

7. Antibiotics don't always work against gonorrhea as well as they used to. Many antibiotics can't be used against gonorrhea anymore because we don't know if they will work. A simple case of gonorrhea however can still be treated by just one trip to the clinic. All that is still needed is one injection as well as a pill that's given in case you have chlamydia. If you still have gonorrhea symptoms after being treated, it's important that you go back to the clinic for more treatment and testing, as you may have resistant gonorrhea. 

8. It's more common than you think. Gonorrhea is the 2nd most common reported disease in the US.  More than 700,000 in the US become infected each year. Only about half are diagnosed. Over 333,000 people in the US were diagnosed with the disease in 2013.

If you have any of these symptoms, it's important you reach out for testing and treatment. Your doctor or nurse can test or treat you. You could also go to a confidential STD testing center. It can be spread through sexual contact involving the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. It can also spread from a mother to a baby at birth.

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