What Is Gonorrhea? - Cause, Symptoms & Cure

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  • 0:05 Sexually Transmitted Disease
  • 0:34 Gonorrhea
  • 2:05 How to Contract and…
  • 4:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will go into one of the most famous sexually transmitted diseases of all time, known as gonorrhea. We'll cover what agent causes this disease, what symptoms may occur, and how it is best avoided and treated.

Sexually Transmitted Disease

There is some suspicion that the great William Shakespeare, in his famous play King Lear, named the character Goneril after the disease we're going to talk about in this lesson. Whether that was indeed a play on words from history's most famous playwright or is rather a benign coincidence, one thing is for sure: The sexually transmitted disease and its signs and symptoms we'll cover in this lesson are anything but benign.


Specifically, a very common sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium that I wish to discuss is called gonorrhea. The bacterium responsible for causing gonorrhea is known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae. As you can tell, the bacterium has the name of the disease embedded within it, so it shouldn't be too hard to remember.

In any case, if you read Shakespeare's play King Lear, then you undoubtedly remember that Goneril was a very nasty and unpleasant character. Like Goneril, gonorrhea can cause some nasty symptoms and signs in people affected by it. In men, these include:

  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • Green, white, or yellow discharge from the penis and
  • Painful or swollen testicles

In women, the signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain during urination
  • Increased vaginal bleeding and discharge between periods and
  • The inability to have children

What's worse isn't just the pain and potentially serious conditions this bacterium may cause in men and women. The worst part about it all is that innocent children can get infected. Namely, as a newborn passes through an infected woman's birth canal, it can easily get infected, resulting in eye infections.

How to Contract and Avoid Gonorrhea

The problem is that gonorrhea can not only easily infect children but adults as well. It's a very common sexually transmitted disease. Meaning, any type of sexual contact, be it vaginal, oral, or anal, can transmit this bacterium, resulting in gonorrhea. Because of the ease by which this bacterium can be transmitted, it shouldn't surprise you that millions of people are affected with this condition.

If you were King Lear you would undoubtedly want to avoid Goneril, or gonorrhea for that matter. Luckily, King Lear had a trustworthy Fool in his court. The name Fool is actually a misnomer, as he was quite a wise character who advised King Lear on how best to conduct his affairs. Needless to say, the Fool would advise anyone who wants to avoid gonorrhea to practice safe sex. He would also warn you that not doing so can lead to an infection that may be antibiotic-resistant.

That's a problem because the way this bacterium is killed is through the use of antibiotics, or drugs that kill bacteria. These drugs include doxycycline and ceftriaxone. It used to be the case that one of the very first antibiotics, penicillin, was hailed as a miracle cure for gonorrhea. Due to penicillin's misuse, the bacterium responsible for gonorrhea, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, has developed a resistance to this and many other antibiotics and has become much harder to treat.

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