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What is “the clap”?

What is “the clap”?

Gonorrhea, also referred to as “the clap,” is a highly contagious bacterial infection transmitted sexually.

It is called the clap because of previous treatment options where the pus in the urethra was cleared by clapping the penis on both sides simultaneously.

Though this treatment is no longer used, the nickname remains. Gonorrhea is characterized by a thick white, yellow or green discharge expelled from the vagina or penis. The infection, however can also affect the rectum, blood, joints, eyes, blood, and skin.

Gonorrhea is spread through vaginal fluids and semen during unprotected sex, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex; the sharing of sex toys, touching of genitals, and mother to child during birth. Kissing or sharing, toilets, towels, cups, or baths, however does not put you at risk.

Half of women and one out of 10 men who have gonorrhea have no symptoms at all. Though, when present, women’s symptoms can include vaginal discharge, pain or burning during urination, frequent urination, or pain between periods. Men can experience pain during urination as well as discharge from the penis. Those who have gonorrhea of the throat rarely show symptoms.

Being tested is the only way to know for sure if you’ve been infected. Doctors use both a swab and urine test to determine your results. The swab test collects fluid from the penis or vagina by placing a swab in the opening of the urethra which can cause some discomfort.

If caught early, the disease can be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor will likely suggest the treatment of chlamydia as a precaution, as the two STD infections are often seen together in half of the patients who contract one.

In order to avoid re-infection, it is important that all of your sexual partners be treated as well. One should avoid having unprotected sex of any kind until they’ve completed the entire treatment and been cleared of infection.

If gonorrhea is not treated it is possible for the infection to spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, causing serious damage.

In women the infection could cause life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, chronic pelvic pain, and blocked fallopian tubes resulting in reduced fertility. Men can experience reduced fertility as well as a painful inflammation of the testicles.

To learn more about gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases visit the CDCs website for Sexually transmitted diseases at

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