What Is Gonorrhea? - Gonorrhea is a curable sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. These bacteria can infect the genital tract, the mouth, and the rectum. In women, the opening to the uterus, the cervix, is the first place of infection.
The disease, however, can spread into the uterus and Fallopian tubes, resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID affects more than 1 million women in this country every year and can cause infertility in as many as 10 percents of infected women and tubal (ectopic) pregnancy.
In 2000, 358,995 cases of gonorrhea were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the United States, approximately 75 percent of all reported cases of gonorrhea is found in younger persons aged 15 to 29 years. The highest rates of infection are usually found in 15- to 19-year old women and 20- to 24-year-old men. Health economists estimate that the annual cost of gonorrhea and its complications are close to $1.1 billion.
What Is Gonorrhea? Gonorrhea is spread during sexual intercourse. Infected women also can pass gonorrhea to their newborn infants during delivery, causing eye infections in their babies. This complication is rare because newborn babies receive eye medicine to prevent infection. When the infection occurs in the genital tract, mouth, or rectum of a child, it is due most commonly to sexual abuse.