Why is Gonorrhea Called “The Clap”?

Gonorrhea, a common sexually transmitted infection (STI), is often referred to by its slang term “the clap.” You might wonder why such a serious infection has such a peculiar nickname. The origin of this term is actually quite interesting and rooted in history.

Historical Origins of the Term “The Clap”

The French Connection

One theory suggests that the term originated in the 16th century from the French word “clapier,” meaning a brothel. During this time, brothels were common places where STIs like gonorrhea were spread. So, the disease may have been associated with “clapier,” eventually shortening to “clap.”

The Old Treatment Method

Another theory relates to an old and rather crude treatment method for gonorrhea. Before modern antibiotics, one way to clear the urethral passage from pus caused by gonorrhea was by clapping both hands on either side of the penis or slamming a book against it. This painful method was thought to help expel the pus and bring some relief.

The Sound of Complications

A less popular theory suggests that “the clap” refers to the sound made when a patient is slapped to check for swollen, painful testicles, which is a complication of advanced gonorrhea in men.

Understanding Gonorrhea

What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It’s sexually transmitted and can infect the genitals, rectum, and throat. It’s important for you to know that anyone who is sexually active can get clap through unprotected sex.


  • In men: burning sensation when urinating, pus-like discharge from the penis, and so painful or swollen testicles.
  • In women: increased vaginal discharge, painful urination, and vaginal bleeding between periods.
  • Some people may not show any symptoms at all, which is why regular testing is crucial.

Why It’s Important to Treat Gonorrhea

Untreated gonorrhea can lead to serious health issues. In women, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which can result in infertility. In men, it can cause pain in the tubes attached to the testicles and also lead to infertility. Moreover, having gonorrhea makes it easier to contract or spread HIV.

Preventing Gonorrhea

  • Practicing safe sex, like using condoms, is key.
  • Regular STI screenings, especially if you’re sexually active with multiple partners, can help catch and treat the infection early.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience any symptoms of gonorrhea, or if your partner has been diagnosed with it, it’s crucial to see a doctor for testing and treatment. Gonorrhea is typically treated with antibiotics.


  1. Can Gonorrhea Be Cured? Yes, gonorrhea can be cured with the right antibiotic treatment. However, any damage done to the body before treatment cannot be reversed.
  2. Can You Get Gonorrhea from Kissing? No, gonorrhea is not typically transmitted through kissing. It is mainly transmitted through sexual contact.
  3. Is Gonorrhea Only Transmitted Sexually? Primarily, yes. It’s a sexually transmitted infection. However, it can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby during childbirth.


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