Gonorrhea

Alternative Names

Clap; The drip

Definition of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria . Anyone who has any type of sex can catch gonorrhea. The infection can be spread by contact with the mouth, vagina, penis, or anus.

Symptoms

Symptoms of gonorrhea usually appear 2 – 5 days after infection, however, in men, symptoms may take up to a month to appear. Some people do not have symptoms. They may be completely unaware that they have caught the disease, and therefore do not seek treatment. This increases the risk of complications and the chances of passing the infection on to another person.

Signs and tests

Gonorrhea can be quickly identified by staining a sample of tissue or discharge and then looking at it under a microscope. This is called a gram stain. Although this method is fast, it is not the most certain.

Treatment

There are two goals in treating a sexually transmitted disease, especially one as easily spread as gonorrhea. The first is to cure the infection in the patient. The second is to locate and test all of the other people the person had sexual contact with and treat them to prevent further spread of the disease.

Expectations (prognosis)

Immediately treating a gonorrhea infection helps prevent permanent scarring and infertility. When treatment is delayed there is a greater chance of complications and sterility.

Review

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/30/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.