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What Is Gonorrhea?

Patient Comments

Gonorrhea is one of the most common diseases passed from one person to another during sexual activity.

  • The overall rate of gonorrhea has decreased to the lowest rate ever recorded, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, gonorrhea is still the second most commonly reported notifiable disease in the United States. The CDC estimates that approximately 700,000 new gonorrheal infections occur yearly in the U.S., only about half of which are reported to the CDC. Roughly half of a percent of people between the ages of 18 and 35 have an infection with gonorrhea that they do not know about. New strains are more easily spread and are resisting treatment even with strong antibiotics.
  • Infection with gonorrhea is more common in certain groups of people. The highest reported infection rates occur in the following groups:
    • Adolescents and young adults
    • People (often poor) living in urban areas and Southern states
    • African Americans
    • Drug users

Gonorrhea Causes

Gonorrhea is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. The infection is transmitted from one person to another through vaginal, oral, or anal sexual relations.

  • Men have a 20% chance of getting the infection by having sexual relations with a woman infected with gonorrhea.
  • Women have a 50% chance of getting the infection by having sexual relations with a man infected with gonorrhea.
  • An infected mother may transmit gonorrhea to her newborn during vaginal childbirth.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/21/2017

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Gonorrhea:

Gonorrhea - Experience

Please describe your experience with gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea - Treatment

What was the treatment for your gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea - Prevention

What prevention measures do you use to avoid getting a gonorrhea?

STDs in Men

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be spread (transmitted) by intercourse, kissing, oral-genital contact, and sharing sexual devices.
  • Aside from abstinence, the use of latex barriers, such as condoms, during intercourse and oral-genital contact (although not 100% effective) is the best means of preventing the spread of STDs.
  • Genital or oral ulcers are most often caused by herpes simplex, chancroid, syphilis, and lymphogranuloma venereum.
  • Syphilis infection can either produce no symptoms or can cause oral or genital ulcers, rash, fever, or a variety of neurological illnesses ranging from forgetfulness to stroke.
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be transmitted alone or together and cause inflammation of the urethra (urethritis), which the patient experiences as burning on urination and a penile discharge (dripping).

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Gonococcal Infections »

Gonorrhea (also called "the clap"), caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, is a public health problem and is the most common reportable infectious disease.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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