What is it?
Gonorrhea, also called “The Clap”, is an infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
Who has it?
Gonorrhea is common, but often goes unreported and untreated. Less than half of the 700,000 yearly Gonorrhea infections are reported and treated.
How do you get it?
Moist areas of the body — like the penis, vagina, throat, rectum, and eyes — are where the Gonorrhea bacteria lives. Gonorrhea is contracted through contact with any of these body parts that are infected. This means any type of sex — vaginal, anal, and oral — with someone who is infected will put you at risk.
How do you know you have it?
Many people who are infected don’t even know they have Gonorrhea because it often doesn’t cause symptoms. Men, who are more likely than women are to have symptoms, may feel a burning when they pee, painful, swollen testicles, or a yellow, white, or green discharge from their penis. The few women who do have symptoms may have pain in their lower abdomen, or pain when they pee.
How do you test for it?
Gonorrhea can be detected by a urine test, though your medical provider may collect a sample from the urethra, cervix, vagina, rectum or throat.
Can you get rid of it?
Luckily, Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. You may need to have an antibiotic injection combined with other medicine, or you may be prescribed pills. To avoid infecting others you should refrain from sex until your antibiotic treatment is completed, and any of your sexual partners prior to treatment should be tested and treated if needed.
How do you keep from getting it?
Abstinence is the only 100% certain way to avoid Gonorrhea. However, if you are sexually active, a good way to avoid Gonorrhea is by being mutually monogamous with a partner who is not infected. If you test positive for Gonorrhea and are treated, you should get tested again in three months to be sure you don’t have it again.
To play it safe, you should get tested for Gonorrhea every year if you’re under 25 and sexually active.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Gonorrhea can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in women. PID is an infection of parts of the reproductive system, like the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes, and may prevent you from having babies if you want to. If a women has gonorrhea during pregnancy, the infection may harm the child’s eyes during birth.
For men, untreated Gonorrhea may cause an infection that causes scarring in the tubes that carry sperm. This happens rarely, but if it does, he may not be able to have children.
To get tested for Gonorrhea and other STDs, contact your local family planning clinic.
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