Why is Gonorrhea called “The Clap” and Why You Should Care
The problem with Sexually Translated Infection (STI) prevention is that we’re all conditioned to be on the lookout only for the biggest threats. But while not life-threatening, some common infections can cause lasting and serious health problems. Two of these examples are Gonorrhea, aka “the Clap,” and Chlamydia. Sure these are often the butt of many a sitcom joke, they are far from a laughing matter. Gonorrhea has a nasty habit of occurring alongside chlamydia, it’s vital to know about them.
What Causes The Clap?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria Gonorrhoeae, infecting the mucous membranes of the reproductive tract. Neisseria Gonorrhoeae is also known to infect the mucous membranes of the mouth, throat, eyes, and rectum. The usual symptoms of this STI in men are dysuria and discharge from the penis. Women are known to have vaginal discharge and/or pelvic pain. For both men and women, if Gonorrhea is left untreated, it may spread locally, causing painful complications such as Epididymitis in men or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women. Gonorrhea can also spread to other parts of the body, even affecting the joints and heart.
How Common Is It?
Well, it’s common enough to have a nickname! Instances of the Clap have been recorded since the sixteenth century. Nowadays Gonorrhea, unfortunately, remains all too common. According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 820,000 new Gonorrheal infections are occurring in the US each year. Less than half are actually detected and reported. As many as 570,000 of these infections afflict men and women between the ages of 15 and 24.
How is Gonorrhea (“The Clap”) contracted?
Any sexually active person can be infected with the Clap. The Clap is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus of an infected partner. It’s also important to know that ejaculation does not have to occur for the disease to be transmitted or acquired. The Clap may also be spread from mother to baby during childbirth.
What Are The Symptoms For Men?
Many men with Gonorrhea do not show any visible symptoms. When present, the signs of an infection in men may include dysuria or a white, yellow, or green urethral discharge that usually appears within 14 days after infection. In some cases where a urethral infection is complicated by Epididymitis, men with Gonorrhea have also experienced testicular and scrotal pain.
What Are The Symptoms For Women?
Just like the men, most of the symptoms for women suffering from Gonorrhea are not immediately visible. Even when a woman has symptoms, they are often so mild and nonspecific that they are mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Much like men, the initial symptoms for women may include dysuria. Women can also experience increased vaginal bleeding or discharge between periods. The Clap presents another risk for women in the form of potentially serious complications from the infection, regardless of the visibility or severity of symptoms.
Both Men and Women Should Take Care
Much as we all hate to mention it, the Clap can have symptoms of rectal infection too. This affects both men and women and may include discharge, itching, soreness, bleeding, and potentially painful bowel movements. Sadly, a rectal infection may not be immediately visible either. An infection of the nose and mouth may cause a sore throat but usually is also asymptomatic.
Why Test For The Clap (Gonorrhea):
When untreated, this STI can cause serious and permanent health problems in both sexes. In women, Gonorrhea can spread into the uterus or Fallopian tubes and cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. These symptoms may be quite mild, or can be very severe, including abdominal pain and fever. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease can lead to internal abscesses and chronic pain. The disease can also damage the Fallopian tubes enough to cause infertility or increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. In rare cases, this may lead to infertility. If left untreated, Gonorrhea may also spread to the blood and cause Disseminated Gonococcal Infection. This infection is usually characterized by arthritis, tenosynovitis, and/or dermatitis. If left untreated, this condition can be life-threatening.
Life-long Complications of The Clap:
If a pregnant woman has Gonorrhea, she may pass the infection on to her baby during delivery. This can lead to blindness, joint infection, or a life-threatening blood infection for the baby. Prompt treatment should reduce the risk of these complications. When untreated, the Clap can also increase the risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV.
Treatment for the Clap:
The CDC recommends dual therapy for the treatment of Gonorrhea. It is important to take all of the medication prescribed to cure the disease. Medication for Gonorrhea should never be shared with anyone. Although medication will stop the infection from spreading, it cannot repair any permanent damage that was caused by the disease.
A Stronger, More Durable Version of The Clap:
Antimicrobial resistance in Gonorrhea is of increasing concern, and successful treatment of Gonorrhea is becoming more difficult. Put plainly, the Clap is mutating and getting stronger. Our existing drugs aren’t as effective as they once were. If a person’s symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment, he or she should return to a healthcare provider to be reevaluated.
AND finally, the real reason why Gonorrhea is called “The Clap” is because:
The nickname of the clap refers to a treatment that used to clear the blockage in the urethra from gonorrhea pus, where the penis would be ‘clapped’ on both sides simultaneously. This gonorrhea treatment is rarely used today, however the nomenclature remains.
What Is Chlamydia And Why You Should Care
Both men and women can contract Chlamydia through engaging in vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who also has this STI. Chlamydia is triggered by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It affects both men and women, but women are in far greater danger. Chlamydia may cause serious and permanent damage to the female reproductive system, preventing future pregnancy. The STI may also be a factor in fatal or irregular pregnancies, so it is critical to get tested frequently.
What Are The Symptoms Of Chlamydia?
Most people who have Chlamydia do not show any symptoms. That’s important to realize so you do not rely on “visual inspections” for yourself or partners before engaging in sexual activity. You might not know if you are carrying the STI right now. What symptoms do exist, may not appear for several weeks after you’ve been infected.
Both men and women with Chlamydia symptoms may notice a burning sensation while urinating. Women may experience an abnormal vaginal discharge, while men or a burning sensation when urinating.
For men, Chlamydia symptoms in men can include may see a discharge from their penis, burning sensation when urinating, and in some cases, pain and swelling in their testicles.
Men and women can also get infected with Chlamydia in their rectum. While these infections often cause no symptoms, they may cause rectal pain, discharge, and bleeding.
Chlamydia Is More Dangerous For Women
Even though it may not be showing symptoms, the danger to the reproductive system is very real. For women, untreated Chlamydia can spread to the uterus and Fallopian tubes (tubes that carry fertilized eggs from the ovaries to the uterus), causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
As we mentioned, if you are pregnant and have Chlamydia, you can pass the infection to your baby during delivery. This could cause any number of problems for the newborn, ranging from an eye infection to pneumonia. Having Chlamydia may also make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. If you are pregnant, you should get tested for Chlamydia often. Testing and treatment are the best ways to prevent health problems.
The STI can lead to long-term pelvic pain, a difficulty in getting pregnant, and more.
Your Age Can Impact Your Odds Of Contracting Chlamydia
If you’re young and sexually active, as many of our readers are, you’re actually at a higher risk of getting Chlamydia. This is due to behaviors and biological factors common among young people. Gay and bisexual men are also at risk since Chlamydia can be spread through oral and anal sex.
The initial damage that Chlamydia causes often goes unnoticed. However, Chlamydia can lead to serious health problems.
How Do I Cure Chlamydia?
With the right treatment, the infection can be stopped. But be aware, repeated infection from Chlamydia is common. No matter what, you should be tested again roughly three months after your initial treatment, even if your sex partner was also treated.
Stay Sexy And Safe – Test Often!
Luckily, there are more quick and efficient options for getting tested – and staying healthy — than ever. The breakthrough of At-Home Testing Kits now gives you the security of your very own testing center. If you would like to get tested in private for STIs such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhea — or even HIV — now is the time the order myLAB Box. With the benefit of telemedicine, you can even get a prescription without ever leaving the privacy of your home.
myLAB Box offers at-home STD test packages for every lifestyle, discreet packaging, and free shipping, easy five-minute tests, lab-certified results, and free physician treatment consultations for those with positive results. And unlike other at-home testing solutions, myLAB Box allows for extragenital testing (screening of the rectum and throat in addition to genital-only examination). While standard STD exams from a clinic will only check the genital area, but ignoring rectal and oral screening leaves a major portion of the population untested.
Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA
- Sexually transmitted causes of urethritis, proctitis, pharyngitis and cervicitis. Medicine. June 2018. .
- Male urethritis with and without discharge: a clinical and microbiological study. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 1995. .
- The Emerging Threat of Untreatable Gonococcal Infection. New England Journal of Medicine. February 2012. .