Gonorrhea or the clap is a peculiar sexually transmitted disease (STD). Women who give birth vaginally can infect their newborns. About half the women and one-tenth of the men who have this STD never show any symptoms of gonorrhea. This means people without symptoms of gonorrhea can keep having sex or sharing sex toys with others and infecting them without realizing it.
The good news about gonorrhea is that it is mostly preventable. Men should always use a condom for any type of sex, including anal or oral sex. This protects both the man and the woman. Sexually active people should get tested for gonorrhea and other STDs when they get involved with a new partner. In this way, infected people without symptoms can take precautions. Gonorrhea is treatable with antibiotics. Current sexual partners should be treated, as well.
Symptoms in Women
Symptoms of gonorrhea are slightly different in women than for men. The most common symptoms are:
- Burning pain when urinating
- Urinating far more often than usual
- Constantly itchy genitals and rectum
- Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
- Bleeding during or just after vaginal sex
- Bleeding in between periods
- Swollen vagina
- Strange-looking discharge from the anus
- Passing strange-smelling discharge from the vagina that may appear like water or may be thick and green or yellow.
Women with gonorrhea occasionally experience a sore throat and conjunctivitis. If these symptoms of gonorrhea are left untreated, women are at risk of infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes, a tendency to have ectopic pregnancies rather than normal pregnancies and chronic pain in the pelvis. The gonorrhea infection can spread to internal organs and the joints, causing painful inflammation.
Symptoms in Men
Men tend to have fewer symptoms of gonorrhea than women, but show symptoms about nine times more than women do. Symptoms can take as late as 30 days to appear after sexual contact with an infected partner. Common symptoms of gonorrhea in men include:
- Intense burning pain when urinating
- Enlargement of the prostate gland, which may cause difficulties in passing urine or urinating more frequently
- Chronic itchiness of the tip of the penis where it has contact with urine
- Chronic itchiness of the anus which may lead to broken skin and bleeding
- Smelly discharge from the penis that appears milky white
- Smelly discharge from the penis that appears thick, yellow and sometimes streaked or spotted with blood.
Men with gonorrhea also rarely suffer sore throat and conjunctivitis like women do. If gonorrhea is left untreated in men, they can become infertile, suffer arthritis and a chronic skin rash.
Complications from Chlamydia
About half of all gonorrhea patients, men or women, also have another STD called chlamydia. This is also treatable with antibiotics. Symptoms are usually mild in comparison to symptoms of gonorrhea. Men with chlamydia tend to have swollen and tender testicles as well fever and a discharge from the penis and anus. Women have similar symptoms to gonorrhea, but they can also have back pain.