Pathogen and transmission
Gonorrhoea, colloquially known as the clap, is one of the most widespread sexually transmitted infections worldwide. It is triggered by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which can be found in the mucous discharge of infected persons and is transmitted through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal intercourse as well as from the mother to the child during birth.
After an infection, the first symptoms usually appear within 2 to 7 days. In men the initial symptoms are reddening and swelling of the urethral orifice, with pain during urination and purulent discharge. Left untreated, the infection encroaches on the prostate and epididymis. In women, the infection also mostly manifests through increased discharge and pain during urination; without treatment the infection may spread throughout the pelvis.
However, the infection is often (more so for women than for men) asymptomatic or develops with only mild symptoms and thus goes undetected for some time. Depending on the sexual practice, the symptoms can also appear in the mouth or throat as well as in the anal region - often asymptomatically or as reddening and irritation. A course of antibiotics provides a cure. However, there are disturbing reports of strains that are resistant to antibiotics that were successfully used to treat the disease up to a few years ago.
A long-term effect of untreated gonorrhoea in both sexes is sterility. Less frequent complications include inflammations of the joints, skin, heart and conjunctiva - the latter also in case of transmission during birth.
Frequency and distribution
In 2016, there were 2'270 confirmed cases of gonorrhoea in Switzerland, which was slightly above the previous year's number. Men account for a full 80 % of diagnosed cases, and the 25-44 age group is particularly at risk. Homosexual and bisexual men, persons with multiple sexual partners and sex workers exhibit a higher incidence of infection than the rest of the population.
Condoms and other safer sex measures reduce the risk of getting infected with gonorrhea. Therefore:
1. Vaginal and anal sex with a condom
2. And because everybody loves different things: do the personalised safer sex check at lovelife.ch
But an infection is nevertheless possible, and it’s important to detect it early. Once an infection is diagnosed, all sexual partners must be examined and, if necessary, treated.
People with changing or multiple simultaneous sexual partners should talk to their doctor or another specialist about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and get advice on whether tests may be necessary.