Also known as “the clap”, gonorrhea is caused by bacteria (gonococci), mainly transmitted during sex. Since gonorrhea can progress without symptoms,an infection often remains undetected. Untreated, gonorrhea can lead to severe inflammation.
Therefore it is important to have regular medical check-ups.
How Does the Infection Progress?
In women, an untreated infection with gonococci can spread from the vagina to the uterus, the fallopian tubes and into the abdominal cavity causing a pelvic inflammatory disease. This frequently means that you may not have babies. A gonorrheal inflammation of the urethra is also quite common in women.
In men, an infection with gonococci is very often the reason for an inflammation of the urethra. Without treatment, the inflammation can also spread to the testicles and the organs adjacent to them and cause sterility.
Both women and men can get an infection with gonorrhea in the throat or in the rectum, depending on the sexual practice.
How Do I Know, if I Have Gonorrhea?
Half of the infected women do not notice anything.
If symptoms occur, they may be:
- Increased and yellowish vaginal discharge
- Painful urination
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- Increased or longer lasting menstrual bleeding
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Strong purulent discharge from the penis (in most cases)
- Painful swelling of the testicles (rarely)
In Women and Men
Infections in the rectum may cause discharge, itching and pain during anal sex.
Infections in the throat feel like a mild sore throat,but mostly don’t cause any discomfort.
An infection with gonococci may also cause an inflammation of the eyes.
- Sexual intercourse (mouth, vagina, penis, rectum)
- Petting and fisting
- Sharing sex toys
How to Protect Yourself?
During vaginal and anal sex, latex condoms offer a high level of protection for penis, vagina and rectum.
During oral sex, condoms offer a good protection for the penis, the mouth, the lips or the tongue. Latex lickcloths (dental dams), placed on the vagina or on the anus during oral sex, also help to protect you.
How to Be Diagnosed?
Gonococci can be detected in a urine sample (just on men) and in a swab from the vagina/the cervix (canal into the womb), the rectum or the throat.
- In case of an infection, your sexual partners of the last three monthsshould be examined, even if they haveno symptoms.
- You should not have sex until the treatment is completed.
- Gonococci become more and more drug-resistant. To check the success of antibiotic therapy, the test urgently needs to be repeated.
Good to Know
Being infected with gonorrhea, increases the risk of catching HIV or other STI.
We, the staff members of the counseling centers on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) are there for you. We offer confidential, anonymous and free counseling on gonorrhea. Some of us also provide testing on gonorrhea.