Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. It is sometimes also referred to as "the clap". It is caused by bacteria known as Gonococci. They can affect all mucous membranes, typically in the urethra, but also in the rectum, mouth and throat.
Gonorrhea raises the risk of HIV transmission. In people who are HIV positive, the inflamed mucous membranes contain a very high level of virus. The same applies to the fluid secreted by the mucous membranes. In HIV-negative people, the inflammation makes it easier for the virus to enter the body.
After a few days, the bacterial infection causes the mucous membranes to become inflamed. Pus also develops. In men, it forms a milky white, later creamy yellow, discharge from the urethra. Men with gonorrhea in the urethra usually suffer from considerable symptoms after three days. It burns and itches. Women often experience burning when urinating, but it is also possible that the inflammation of the urethra causes no symptoms.
If other mucous membranes are infected, it is easy for gonorrhea to be overlooked. For example, if the illness affects the throat, it can be easily confused with a cold. Gonorrhea in the rectum also usually goes unrecognized.
Important: even after the symptoms have died down, untreated gonorrhea can spread in the body and have serious consequences, including infertility.
The infection is unfortunately very easy to spread, not only via vaginal or anal sex, but also during oral sex (fellatio or "blow jobs" and cunninlingus or “going down”). A risk primarily exists whenever mucous membranes come into direct contact with one another.
The Gonococci bacteria cannot live for long away from human mucous membranes. An infection via toilets, towels or anything similar is therefore extremely unlikely.
Using condoms during vaginal, anal and oral sex reduces the risk of infection considerably.
Gonorrhea can be identified by taking a swab or a urine sample.
The illness can be treated with antibiotics. Increasingly, however, pathogens appear which are already resistant to certain medications. Treatment can therefore sometimes be complicated.
You should avoid sexual contact until the treatment is complete to avoid passing on the infection. In order to avoid a “ping-pong” effect, where the infection is passed back and forth, your partners should also be tested - even if they have no symptoms.