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Speedy Sex Ed for College Students: Gonorrhea

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pitt chapter.

Most college students have had at least some formal education regarding sex and sexually transmitted infections/diseases (STIs/STDs). But along our sexual careers, we often forget a lot of the information they taught us in 8th grade Sex Ed. As sexually active adults, we should all be familiar with the concept of STIs and their treatments, as well as symptoms and ways to protect ourselves against them. So this collegiette decided to get informed – and to share what I learned with all of you! This week’s subject? Gonorrhea.


Aliases: The Clap, Drip

What is it? – Gonorrhea, according to the Center for Disease Control, is “a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can infect both men and women.” This disease is extremely common among sexually active adults.

Where can you get it? – Gonorrhea likes to grow in “warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract…mouth throat and anus,” according to WebMD.


How is it transmitted? – Gonorrhea is spread through unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sex. It is transferred through the bodily fluids of the infected individual. Women can even transmit the disease during childbirth.

What are the symptoms? – Oftentimes, Gonorrhea doesn’t have symptoms. This is especially true for females. However, the most common symptoms in women are “increased vaginal discharge, painful urination, and vaginal bleeding between periods” (Mayo Clinic). This is also true for men (minus the vaginal bleeding). Other symptoms include “anal itching, soreness, [and in men] painful or swollen testicles” (Center for Disease Control).


No Jim Carey, do not scratch that itch.

Who is at risk? – Any sexually active adult is at risk for Gonorrhea, including non-heteronormative individuals.

How is it diagnosed? – Gonorrhea is usually diagnosed through urine tests, but can also be diagnosed through rectal and oral swabs.  

How is it treated? – Doctors currently treat Gonorrhea with antibiotics, but due to the increase in antibiotic resistance, new treatments are being studied. If you contract Gonorrhea, do not stop your treatment early! Even though symptoms may have ceased, it is likely that “the infection may still be in your body until treatment is complete” (Planned Parenthood). Also, most doctors recommend that you abstain from sex for a week after your treatment is complete (Center for Disease Control).


Dr. Phil wants you to take your pills.

What if I don’t get treatment? – Long-term implications of Gonorrhea include “pelvic inflammatory disease, which causes problems with pregnancy and infertility” in women (MedlinePlus). In men, “gonorrhea can cause a painful condition in the tubes attached to the testicles. In rare cases, this may cause a man to be sterile, or prevent him from being able to father a child” (Center for Disease Control).

How can I protect myself against Gonorrhea? – WebMD suggests that sexually active adults:

  • Use condoms correctly every time you have sex
  • Limit the number of sex partners, and do not go back and forth between partners
  • Practice sexual abstinence, or limit sexual contact to one uninfected partner
  • Avoid sexual contact and see a doctor if you think you are infected


Although these practices greatly reduce the likelihood of infection, the only surefire way to prevent gonorrhea is through abstinence.

*Keep in mind that catching a sexually transmitted disease says nothing about your character. It is your body, you choose what you do with it, and no one can tell you otherwise. There’s no reason to feel ashamed if you do get Gonorrhea or any other STI. It can happen to any sexually active adult at any point in their sexual journey.


For further information, consult the following authorities on STIs and sexual health:







Image Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Thanks for reading our content! hcxo, HC at Pitt