21 Interesting Facts About Gonorrhea + Symptoms, Causes, Prevention

Here are the top interesting facts about gonorrhea:

1 Gonorrhea, sometimes referred to as “the clap,” is a sexually transmitted disease caused by infection with the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium.

2 This bacterium can infect both women and men. It is the 2nd most commonly reported notifiable disease in the US.

3 The United States rate of reported cases reached a historic low of about 98.1 cases per 100,000 population in 2009.

However, in 2014, data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that there were 350,062 new cases with this condition, with a rate of 110.7 cases per 100,000 population.

4 Part of the explanation may be that this sexually transmitted disease is becoming more common among men who have sex with men.

5 Approximately 50% of cases with this condition are people between the ages of 18 and 35 but they don’t know they have it.

Moreover, the highest rates of infection are found in men who are 20 to 24 years of age and in women who are 15 to 19 years of age.

6 More than 12,000 new cases of this sexually transmitted disease were reported in Canada, in 2010. Worldwide, there are about 78 million new cases diagnosed per year.

7 In the United State, healthcare professionals are required by law to tell the State Board of Health about all new cases. The target of this law is to make sure the sufferer gets the correct treatment. In addition, sexual partners need to be found and tested.


8 Doctors thought that many cases go untreated and undetected due to the fact that this infection does not always have noticeable signs and symptoms.

Also, when symptoms occur, they may appear within 2 to 10 days for men and up to 21 days for women after initial exposure to an infected person.

9 For women, symptoms include:

  • an increased yellowish vaginal discharge;
  • bleeding between periods;
  • frequent urination;
  • pain when urinating;
  • redness and swelling of the genitals;
  • itching of the vaginal area.

10 If untreated, this condition can lead to a severe pelvic infection with inflammation of the ovaries and Fallopian tubes.

Also, it can lead to a higher risk of ectopic pregnancies (which means that the egg develops outside the womb) and permanent infertility.

11 For men, symptoms include:

  • a burning sensation when urinating;
  • burning or itching around the urethra;
  • yellow, white, or green discharge from the penis;
  • swelling of the testicles.

12 If untreated, it can lead to complications, such as – infertility and epididymitis (an inflammation of the tube that carries sperm).


13 It is transmitted through sexual contact with the vagina, penis, anus, or mouth of an infected partner.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria grow in the reproductive tract, particularly in the mouth, urethra, anus, and throat in both women and men, and in the uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes in women.

14 Even though it can be contracted through sex, a man doesn’t need to ejaculate in order to pass it on to his partner. Also, oral sex can cause this infection in the throat.

15 Babies can also be infected during childbirth if their mothers are infected. In babies, Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria usually affects the eyes.

The eyes of the infected baby become swollen and red and have a thick, pus-like discharge. Adults may also get eye infections if they touch the infected area and then touch their eyes.

16 Women have about 75 percent risk of getting this condition from an act of vaginal intercourse with a man infected with this bacterium, and men have 1 in 5 chances of getting this condition from an act of vaginal intercourse with a woman infected with this bacterium.


17 Antibiotic treatment is available on prescription from a healthcare professional. After treatment, a follow-up test may be required to see if the infection has been cured totally. Antibiotics can be used to stop this bacterial infection, however, they cannot repair any permanent damage caused by the infection.

18 Research in the last decade has concluded that strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium have developed resistance to numerous types of antibiotics.

19 Treatment of pregnant women infected with this bacterium involves special considerations since they cannot take certain antibiotics which may affect negatively the developing baby.

For instance, quinolone antibiotics, like – ofloxacin and ciprofloxacin, can inhibit DNA formation.


20 People who don’t use a condom or those with many sexual partners are at the greatest risk of infection.

The best protection against this condition include – monogamy (sex with only one partner), abstinence, and condom usage.

21 To prevent gonococcal ophthalmia (neonatal conjunctivitis) in newborns, all pregnant women at risk for this infection should be tested during the first prenatal visit.

Images credit – Shutterstock

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