What causes sexually-transmitted gonorrhea?

Updated: Jun 15, 2021
  • Author: Shahab Qureshi, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Gonococcal infection usually follows mucosal inoculation during vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. It also may be caused by inoculation of mucosa by contaminated fingers or other objects. Transmission through penile-rectal contact is fairly efficient.

The risk of transmission of N gonorrhoeae from an infected woman to the urethra of her male partner is approximately 20% per episode of vaginal intercourse and rises to 60-80% after 4 or more exposures. In contrast, the risk of male-to-female transmission approximates 50-70% per contact, with little evidence of increased risk with more sexual exposures.

Persons who have unprotected intercourse with new partners frequently enough to sustain the infection in a community are defined as core transmitters.

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