Facts about Gonorrhea
Gonorrhea, commonly called the clap, is a curable sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by bacteria. It can be treated with antibiotics, but is important to find it early. If gonorrhea spreads in your body it can lead to sterility among men and women, such as with pelvic inflammatory disease in women. Symptoms are not always present, especially at the onset.
Gonorrhea affects the genital tract, mouth, and rectum. Among women, the cervix (opening to the womb or uterus) is the first place of attack. The disease can spread to the womb (uterus) and to the fallopian tubes, this is when PID is possible. In addition to sterility, PID can also cause ectopic pregnancies, which are pregnancies that occur outside of the womb. A woman can become very sick and even die from this type of pregnancy.
Gonorrhea is contracted by sexual contact (vaginal, oral, anal). Persons who engage in anal sex can catch gonorrhea of the rectum. Women infected with gonorrhea can get infection in the rectum even if they do not practice anal sex. This is because the infection can travel to the rectum from the vagina.
Pregnant women can also pass gonorrhea to their babies during birth. Babies usually get the infection in their eyes. If an infant is infected with gonorrhea in other areas, such as genital tract, mouth or rectum, this is usually a sign of child sexual abuse. Antibiotic drops are placed in infants' eyes after birth to prevent this infection. In the newborn, gonorrhea can also cause infections of the heart, lungs, and joints. Gonorrhea contracted during pregnancy can become serious, since it can enter her bloodstream and lead to arthritis, heart disorders, meningitis, and hepatitis in the mother.