Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease. Popular names for gonorrhea are clap, drip, dose, and strain.
Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria. The infection is passed from person to person during sex. It is very contagious. The bacteria can enter the body through any body opening, such as the mouth, vagina, penis, or rectum.
In men, the infection usually starts in the urethra. (The urethra is the tube that carries urine out of the penis.) The bacteria may also infect the throat or rectum during oral or anal sex.
You may not have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they usually start 2 to 10 days after you were exposed to the disease. Symptoms of gonorrhea include:
Your healthcare provider will check your penis and testicles for signs of infection. Other infections can cause symptoms similar to gonorrhea. To confirm the diagnosis, your provider will do tests for gonorrhea. There are 2 kinds of tests:
The urine test usually provides a quicker result, but the swab, which takes 2 to 3 days for results, can also tell your provider which antibiotics are best for treating the infection. This is important because some gonorrhea bacteria are becoming resistant to the antibiotics usually used to treat the infection.
Your healthcare provider may also swab your anus or mouth if there is a chance you were infected in these areas.
Gonorrhea is treated with an antibiotic. Many people with gonorrhea also have chlamydia (another sexually transmitted disease). Because of this, you may be given more than 1 medicine so that both infections are treated.
Tell your sexual partner or partners about their risk of infection. They should also be treated even if they don't have symptoms.
Cases of gonorrhea are required by law to be reported to the local health department. The clinic staff will ask with whom you have had sexual contact. These people will then be told that they have had contact with someone who has gonorrhea. This can help protect them against the infection. (Your name will not be given.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) follows these infections so they can find epidemics in the early stages. This allows the CDC to take steps to prevent new infections and to get as many people as possible checked and treated.
If only the urethra is infected, proper treatment should clear up the infection in about 10 days.
If it is not treated, gonorrhea can cause scarring of the urethra, trouble urinating normally, and infection of the testicles. Testicle infection can cause infertility, which means that you would not be able to have children.
The infection might spread into the bloodstream and to other parts of the body.