Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise in the U.S., with gonorrhea being one of the most common. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that gonorrhea is the second most-reported STD, with around 820,000 new cases recorded every year.1
What Is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is an STD caused by the bacterial strain Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and it can affect both men and women. Most cases of gonorrhea are asymptomatic (no symptoms develop),2 but when symptoms do appear, they often cause great distress. A classic indicator of gonorrhea is the presence of a sticky, pus-like discharge in the penis and the vagina. A burning feeling may be experienced during urination as well. In some cases, pain in the abdomen (or testicles for men) may develop.
Common Misconceptions About Gonorrhea
Due to the prevalence of gonorrhea, many myths have popped up regarding how you can treat or avoid it in the first place, some of which you may have heard before:
• Gonorrhea Can't Be Transmitted Through Oral Sex
The male and female genitals aren't the only organs that gonorrhea can infect. If a partner has gonorrhea, it can manifest in the throat through oral sex.3
• Your Body Can Get Rid of Gonorrhea on Its Own
It's highly unlikely that your immune system alone can fight off gonorrhea, and that you can't get it again once the infection is gone. You certainly need some form of treatment to experience relief from its symptoms, and there's a high chance the disease can return.4 One of the defining characteristics of gonorrhea is its ability to appear again months after you've been cured.5
• The Hot Tub Will Kill Off Gonorrhea or Other STD-Causing Microbes
People generally think that gonorrheal bacteria and other STD-causing microbes can be killed by soaking in a tub of warm water. On the contrary, these microorganisms can survive in warm water for long periods of time. In addition, the warm water opens up your pores, making your skin more vulnerable to cuts that can allow the microbes to enter your system.6
• You Can Immediately Tell If You Have Gonorrhea
Many cases of gonorrhea are actually asymptomatic, making it hard to know who is truly infected.7 The only way to stop the spread of gonorrhea is to have yourself and your partner tested for STDs regularly.8
The Good News: Gonorrhea Is Treatable and Preventable
Conventional treatment for gonorrhea usually involves the use of antibiotics. However, this is not recommended nowadays as the bacteria have evolved and are now resistant to the medication. The CDC states that there is only one class of antibiotic left that may help treat gonorrhea, but chances are this antibiotic will also become ineffective in the long run.9
Aside from being treatable, you can prevent gonorrhea from happening in the first place by practicing safe sex methods, such as using condoms and limiting your sex partners. Furthermore, this guide will educate you on how gonorrhea spreads, effective preventive methods and possible health complications that may arise if you don't treat it right away.