Gonorrhea, also known as ‘the clap’, is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and can be very dangerous if left untreated.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the overall rate of gonorrhea is on the increase again after a steady decline during the last two decades. About 700,000 new infections occur every year in the U.S.
The infection is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that grows and multiplies in warm, moist places (the penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra and throat) and is spread by vaginal and anal intercoursse and oral sex. It can also be passed on from a pregnant woman to her child during birth.
Gonorrhea often remains undiagnosed because there are usually either no symptoms or they are so mild, that they can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Symptoms can take up to a month to appear and include a burning sensation when urinating and an abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina. Men can suffer from swollen or painful testicles and women may experience vaginal bleeding between periods.
Gonorrhea can be successfully treated with antibiotics, although an increase in drug-resistant strains of the STD is making treatment more difficult. Left untreated, the infection can pose serious health threats including pregnancy complications, infertility and athritis.
Need an STD test?
To diagnose gonorrhea health care providers test any discharge or take cell samples from the parts of the body likely to be infected. A urine sample may also be tested.
In the not too distant future, it may even be possible to avoid making the often embarassing trip to the doctor and test STDs like gonorrhea, herpes and chlamydia using mobile phones or computers. According to a report in the Guardian, a system, similar to pregnancy testing kits, is being developed that will be able to provide a quick and private diagnosis of whether or not one has an STD.
It will work by placing urine or saliva onto a computer chip and then plugging it into one’s phone or computer to reveal the results just mintues later.
The most surefire way to avoid the STD is to abstain from vaginal and anal intercourse and oral sex. When that isn’t an option, using a condom is the safest bet.
Read here about genital herpes and about how Facebook may be the cause of the increase of the sexually transmitted disease syphillis.
Images: Wikimedia Commons