Gonorrhea, or "The Clap," can be detrimental if left untreated, causing infertility in both men and women. Find out more information about gonorrhea here.
The Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium causes gonorrhea. A case of gonorrhea occurs when N. gonorrhoeae bacteria are spread to and grow and multiply in warm, wet conditions, such as a woman's reproductive tract and urethra or a man's urethra, as well as the anus, mouth, throat, and eyes. Gonorrhea spreads from person to person during vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact.
Symptoms in women are often mistaken for those of a bladder infection but can progress to vaginal discharge and vaginal bleeding between periods. Men often have no indications of gonorrhea at all, or they might experience a prominent white or yellow discharge from the penis or pain during urination.
If gonorrhea remains untreated, women can develop PID and become infertile, and men are at risk for epididymitis, a painful testicular condition that also can lead to infertility. Both men and women can experience painful infections in the throat and rectum.
The condition can be more serious or even life threatening if the infection spreads to the joints (gonococcal arthritis) or the heart valves (gonococcal endocarditis).
A variety of antibiotics can cure gonorrhea, but there are an increasing number of antibiotic-resistant strains. As with most sexually transmitted infections, newborns can pick up gonorrhea during childbirth and develop eye infections.
Who's at Risk for Gonorrhea
Any person who is sexually active is at risk for gonorrhea. The CDC estimates at least 700,000 people develop new cases of gonorrhea in the United States annually. Teenagers, young adults, and African-Americans contract it the most.
Defensive Measures Against Gonorrhea
The best way to prevent gonorrhea is to abstain from sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal, or oral), but the bacterium can also be transmitted when infected discharges or secretions get on hands and then the hands come into contact with mucous membranes. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to cover the penis with a latex condom from the moment sexual foreplay begins.
Remember, you won't be able to tell if someone has gonorrhea just by looking because there might not be any visible symptoms. Testing and open and honest communication are the only ways to know for certain if someone is disease-free.
Human Papillomavirus can cause genital warts, but many people carry this disease without showing any symptoms. Find out more in the next section.
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