What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea, sometimes called the clap, is a curable bacterial infection that affects the sex organs. If left untreated, gonorrhea may lead to infertility.

Gonorrhea is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Gonorrhea is transmitted through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhea to be transmitted or acquired.

Pregnant females with untreated gonorrhea may pass the infection onto their babies during vaginal childbirth (not cesarean section).

The bacterium can only live outside of the body for a few seconds. Therefore, the infection cannot be transmitted through toilet seats or other objects such as towels or clothing.

Symptoms of Gonorrhea

Most patients develop symptoms of gonorrhea one to 10 days after the bacterium enters the body. Some patients may be infected for months before symptoms develop. More than 50% of females with gonorrhea do not experience any symptoms.

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Potential Complications

In females, untreated gonorrhea may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This is an infection of the fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix. If left untreated, PID may cause permanent damage to the reproductive tract, which may lead to infertility. It may also lead to long-term pelvic pain.

Males with untreated gonorrhea may develop a condition called epididymitis. This condition is characterized by inflammation of the tubes near the testicles that carry semen. Symptoms may include fever, scrotal pain, and swelling.

In rare cases, Neisseria gonorrhoeae may enter the bloodstream and infect other parts of the body, such as the skin, joints, or internal organs. Symptoms may include fever, swelling, joint pain and stiffness, rash, and skin sores.

Gonorrhea Diagnosis

Patients should talk to their healthcare providers to determine how often they should be tested for gonorrhea. Patients who have symptoms of gonorrhea or suspect they may have been exposed to gonorrhea should be tested.

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Treatment of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is curable. Patients typically take antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro® or Cipro XR®), ofloxacin (Floxin®), and levofloxacin (Levaquin®).

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If you have been experiencing symptoms of Gonorrhea or suspect you have been exposed to Gonorrhea, please get tested immediately!

If you’re unsure of how often you should get tested, without experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor. Patients who test positive for STDs should tell their partners. Their partners should be tested and treated to prevent re-infection.

Females should undergo annual Pap smears.

Alternative Therapies for Gonorrhea

Click here if you want to read more about alternative therapies for Gonorrhea

Selected References

American Social Health Association. www.ashastd.org.
Accessed April 28, 2009.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). www.cdc.gov.
Accessed April 28, 2009.Cline JS. Sexually transmitted diseases: will this problem ever go away?
N C Med J. 2006 Sep-Oct;67(5):353-8.Enders M, Regnath T, Tewald F, et al. Syphilis.
Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2007 Jan 19;132(3):77-8.Flipp E, Raczynski P, El Midaoui A, et al. Chlamydia trachomatis infection in sexually active adolescents and young women. Med Wieku Rozwoj. 2005 Jan-Mar;9(1):57-64.Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Copyright © 2009.Accessed April 28, 2009.
No authors listed. Human papillomavirus vaccine: new drug. Cervical cancer prevention: high hopes. Prescrire Int. 2007 Jun;16(89):91-4.
Rupp RE, Stanberry LR, Rosenthal SL. Vaccines for sexually transmitted infections. Pediatr Ann. 2005 Oct;34(10):818-20, 822-4.