Gonorrhea, once known as “the clap,” is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoea that grow in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes in women and the urethra in both women and men. The bacteria can also grow in the mouth, throat, and anus.
Gonorrhea is transmitted through vaginal or cervical secretions and semen during unprotected anal, oral, or vaginal sex with an infected person. It can also be transmitted from mother to newborn during childbirth.
Gonorrhea is not transmitted through such casual contact as hugging, shaking hands, sharing food, using the same eating utensils, drinking from the same glass, sitting on public toilets, or touching door knobs.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Most men and women will experience no symptoms.
- Men may show signs of infection within two to five days after exposure. Women may show signs within 10 days. The signs are similar to those of Chlamydia. Individuals should, therefore, receive tests for both STDs.
- Men may experience such symptoms as a yellowish discharge from the penis, burning or pain during urination, frequent urination, and pain or swelling of the testicles.
- Women may experience such symptoms as a yellow or bloody discharge from the vagina and burning or pain during urination.
- Some women may experience pain of the lower abdomen or back, pain during intercourse, bleeding between menstrual periods, and nausea or fever if the disease has spread to the fallopian tubes. This is often an indication that the infection has progressed to PID.
- Men and women may have a sore or red throat if that part of the body has become infected.
- Gonorrhea is diagnosed through cultures of secretions collected from the throat, urethra, anus, or cervix. It is also diagnosed through urine tests.
- Gonorrhea is curable with oral antibiotics prescribed by a health care provider. All partners should undergo treatment at the same time to prevent passing the infection back and forth. They should also be sure to finish the full course of antibiotics even if symptoms subside.
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- National Data - CDC's STD Surveillance 2005 Report: www.cdc.gov/std/Gonorrhea/default.htm
- In 2005, gonorrhea cases reported in the United States increased slightly from 330,132 in 2004 to 339,593.
- * The rate of reported gonorrhea in the United States was 115.6 cases per 100,000 people in 2005, the first increase in gonorrhea since 1999.
Data by Sex:
- Prior to 1996, rates of gonorrhea among men were higher than rates among women. 2005, however, was the fifth straight year in which gonorrhea rates in women were slightly higher than in men.
In 2005 the gonorrhea rate among women was 119.1 cases per 100,000 people and the rate among men was 111.5 cases per 100,000 people.
Data by Race/Ethnicity:
- Gonorrhea rates decreased by 17.8% between 2001 and 2005 for African Americans from 762.0 to 626.4 cases per 100,000 people.
- In contrast, rates in other racial/ethnic groups have increased. Since 2001, the gonorrhea rate among American Indian/Alaska Natives increased 28.4% (131.7 per 100,000 in 2005), the rate among whites increased 19.7% (35.2 per 100,000 in 2005), the rate among Hispanics increased 6.4% (74.8 per 100,000 in 2005), and the rate among Asian/Pacific Islanders increased 5.3% (25.9 per 100,000 in 2005).
Data by Age:
- The overall gonorrhea rate for young people ages 20-24 (506.8 cases per 100,000) was over 4 times higher than the national gonorrhea rate.
- Among females in 2005, young women ages 15-19 and ages 20-24 had the highest rates of gonorrhea (624.7 and 581.2 cases per 100,000 respectively); among males, young men ages 20-24 highest rate (436.8 cases per 100,000). The gonorrhea rate among all of these groups increased slightly in 2005.
Regional, State, County, and City Data:
Condoms and Gonorrhea Prevention
Gabriela Paz-Bailey, et al., "The Effect of Correct and Consistent Condom Use on Chlamydial and Gonococcal Infection Among Urban Adolescents," Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 159.6 (June 2005): 536-542.
Both correct and consistent condom use was reported by only 80 patients (16%).
Correct and consistent use was associated with a significant reduction in gonorrhea.
No adolescent girls were infected with gonorrhea if they and their partner(s) used condoms consistently and correctly.
The full text of this article may be obtained online for a fee. For more information:
See the abstract at the, Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine archpedi.highwire.org/cgi/content/abstract/159/6/536, or contact your local librarian.
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