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Gonorrhea (also referred to as clap or drip sometimes) is the second commonest sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae).


Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a round bacterium Neisseria gonorrheae and manifests with lower urinary tract and genital infection. If left untreated gonorrhea in women may be complicated by pelvic inflammatory disease and ultimately lead to infertility and ectopic pregnancy. In a small number of infected individuals, the disease can become widespread and lead to skin involvement, and joint pain and affect the heart.

Any sexually active person can get infected with gonorrhea.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for contracting gonorrhea include the following:

  • Not using condoms during sexual intercourse;
  • Having multiple sexual partners;
  • Having a partner with past history of any sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Being unmarried;
  • Being addicted to drugs;


Infection is transmitted during sexual intercourse with an infected person. Although the majority of individuals who have symptoms of gonorrhea quickly start treatment and abstain from sex, those with asymptomatic disease or neglecting their symptoms spread the infection.


The symptoms usually appear shortly after exposure to the bacterium and if treatment is soon initiated the disease lasts up to 14 days.

In men gonococcal infection manifests in the form of urethra inflammation (urethritis) that causes pain inside the penis, pain or burning while passing urine (dysuria), increased frequency of urination (urinary frequency), and feeling of the need to urinate urgently (urinary urgency). Offensive pussy discharge from the tip of the penis is noted. Gonorrhea may be complicated with acute epididymitis when testicles appear painful and swollen.

Unlike in men, in women, the disease is more likely to be asymptomatic or cause only mild symptoms and hence women less often seek medical advice. In females symptoms of the disease include yellow or bloody vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, pain during sexual intercourse, and urinary changes.

Gonorrhea may also affect the rectum causing acute proctitis which is characterized by itching in the anal area, bleeding, painful cramping, and purulent discharge.

In pregnancy, gonorrhea may cause premature delivery, pregnancy loss, and even fetal death.


Healthcare providers usually use three laboratory techniques to diagnose gonorrhea, staining samples directly for the bacterium, detecting bacterial genes or DNA in urine, and growing the bacteria in laboratory cultures.

Tests include:

  • Gram stain: This is done right in a clinic or physician’s office. A sample from the urethra or cervix is placed on a slide and stained with dye. It allows the doctor to see the bacteria under a microscope. This test works better for men than for women.
  • Urine test: Gonorrhea in the cervix or urethra can be diagnosed with a urine sample sent to a lab.
  • Swab sample: A swab sample from the part of the body likely to be infected (cervix, urethra, penis, rectum, or throat) can be sent to a lab for testing.


Antibiotic treatment is required for gonococcal infection. Typically such antibiotics as cefixime, ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and levofloxacin are used. Pregnant women or people younger than 18 years old should not take ciprofloxacin or ofloxacin.

A follow-up visit 7 to 10 days after treatment is important if joint pain, skin rash, or more severe pelvic or belly pain is present. Tests will be then done to make sure the infection is gone.


Proper use of condoms helps prevent the spread of gonorrhea as well as other sexually transmitted diseases. It is important to early recognize signs of infection and start antibiotic treatment and an infected person should abstain from sex until fully recovered or finished treatment.

Note: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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