The History of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection that has dated back to medieval times. However, the earliest records of this disease date back to the 1600s. This disease caused a widespread of infection causing the English parliament to enact a law to prevent the spread. So, how did gonorrhea start and why was it called the clap?

The Clap

Gonorrhea was originally referred to as the clap. This nickname came about because the person infected would feel a clapping sensation when urinating. However, others say that this nickname came from French brothels called les clapiers. Men who often visited these brothels often ended up with the infection.

In 1879, Nessier discovered the bacteria gonococcus or Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which was proven to be the cause of gonorrhoea. He found this in patients with symptoms of gonorrhea.

Treatment History

One of the earliest treatments for gonorrhea was the use of mercury. Research shows that surgical tools were used to inject the mercury into the urinary opening. By the 19th century this infection was treated with silver nitrate. However, that was soon discontinued and protargol was used. Also, in the 19th century cubebs were used. This was an Indonesian variety of pepper and balsam of copaiba, which was extracted from a South American tree. This was effective in ending the discharge.

In 1909 a vaccine was introduced that was created using killed gonococci. In the 1940s Penicillin was created and this was used to treat a variety of infections. By the 1980s it was proven that the virus was resisting penicillin. Patients were then successfully treated with spectinomycin.

Today the treatment used for gonorrhea is the antibiotic ceftriaxone, which is an injection. This is used in combination with azithromycin or doxycycline.



Gonorrhea Symptoms

Gonorrhea symptoms occur about two weeks after exposure. Symptoms in men include a burning sensation while urinating with a greater frequency to urinate. Men may also experience a discharge from the penis, as well as swelling at the opening of the penis.

For women, you may experience discharge from the vagina or a pain and burning sensation while urinating. Women may also experience heavier periods, a sore throat and pain during sexual intercourse and in the lower abdomen.

One thing to note, though, not all those infected with gonorrhea will experience symptoms. This is why it can be easy to pass on. You might not know that you have this infection, so it is important to get tested regularly.

Testing for gonorrhea is done through a fluid sample in the area with the symptoms, such as the penis or vagina. The doctor may also request to do a blood sample if he or she suspects a blood infection. Another test done will take the sample and place it on a dish. This sample will be watched for several days to see if the bacteria grows.

If gonorrhea is not treated, it can affect the female reproductive organs and cause pelvic inflammatory disease. Women may also develop a blockage in their fallopian tubes and this could lead to an ectopic pregnancy in the future.

In men, an untreated infection could lead to a painful abscess in the penis and could cause infertility.


Treating Gonorrhea and Preventing the Infection

If you are diagnosed with gonorrhea, it can be treated using antibiotics. As stated earlier, ceftriaxone is used in combination with azithromycin or doxycycline. However, gonorrhea continues to become antibiotic-resistant, which means that a more extensive treatment might be necessary in order to fight off this infection. Once you are on antibiotics you should see results in several days. However, it is important to talk to your doctor about how long you should wait before engaging in sexual activity.

Following this infection, you are still at risk of getting gonorrhea again. Therefore, it is important to protect yourself from this disease and other STDs. Of course, the best way to prevent it is through abstinence. However, if you are sexually active it is important to use a condom and to make sure you are aware if your partners have an STD such as gonorrhea or have been tested. If you have the infection, you should inform your partner.


Getting Tested for Gonorrhea

If you suspect that you have come in contact with gonorrhea or if you are experiencing symptoms, it is important to get tested. Once diagnosed, a doctor can provide you with the necessary treatment and answer all of your questions about gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted infections. The greatest risk with any STD is not knowing that you are infected.


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