MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: Gonorrhea is a common type of sexually transmitted disease or infection. It’s sometimes referred to by the slang term “the clap.” The germs that cause the infection are tiny bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. You can catch gonorrhea from an infected person during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. And if a pregnant woman has gonorrhea, she can pass it to her baby as the baby moves through the birth canal during childbirth. In your body, the infection begins when the bacteria attach to cells in the tissue that lines many of your body cavities, called mucosal epithelium. Once attached, the bacteria begin to invade this tissue. As the bacteria multiply over time and damage your cells, they cause immune cells to enter the tissue. This inflames and damages the tissue as your immune cells try to clear the infection. Unfortunately, the bacteria have ways to avoid being eliminated by your immune cells. This allows the bacteria to grow and spread within your body. The main risk for getting gonorrhea is having oral, anal, or vaginal sex with a person who is infected. You may have a higher risk if you are sexually active and have more than one sex partner, are a teenager or young adult, or are a man who has sex with men. Many people have no symptoms. But if a woman has symptoms, they may include an abnormal discharge from the vagina, vaginal bleeding between periods, and a burning feeling while urinating. A man may have similar symptoms, such as an abnormal discharge from the penis, a burning feeling at the tip of the penis or while urinating, and pain in one or both testicles. In both men and women, gonorrhea may also infect the rectum, which is the last part of the large intestine. Symptoms of infection in the rectum may include itching or abnormal discharge from the anus, and pain during bowel movements. Left untreated, the infection may cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women. This means the infection has spread throughout her reproductive organs. In men, it may lead to epididymitis. This refers to inflammation and swelling of the coiled tube attached to the testicles, called the epididymis. The good news is that gonorrhea can be treated successfully with antibiotics, such as ceftriaxone. You may also be prescribed a second antibiotic, such as doxycycline, to treat possible infection with another sexually transmitted disease, called chlamydia. People who have gonorrhea are often infected with chlamydia at the same time. It’s important to know that treatment may not fix any damage the disease has already done to your body. After treatment, it’s important to follow up with your doctor to confirm the infection has cleared because some bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. You can reduce your risk of getting gonorrhea if you only have sex with one long-term partner who doesn’t have sex with other people and who has been tested for gonorrhea and doesn’t have it. And you can practice safer sex, which means taking steps before and during sex to prevent you from getting or spreading gonorrhea. For example, using condoms correctly every time you have sex can reduce your risk. The most reliable way to avoid getting gonorrhea is to practice abstinence, which means not having vaginal, anal, or oral sex. To find out more about gonorrhea, talk to your healthcare practitioner.