Written on December 23, 2022 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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According to a peer-reviewed article from 2012, gonorrhea has a recorded history going back to ancient times in ancient Chinese and Greek civilizations as well as among traveling international businesspeople around the world . They continue to explain that “Galen, a Greek physician (AD 130-200), is credited with naming gonorrhea after gonos (semen) and rhoia (to flow)” as he had “mistakenly attributed the disease to an involuntary ejaculation of semen” .
The article notes that years later in the 1500s, there was a widely recognized relationship between prostitution and gonorrhea, and this is when it got its nickname “the clap,” which derives from the French word les clapiers (literally meaning rabbit huts), which referred to “the small huts where prostitutes often lived and serviced their customers” .
Another level of symbolism for the “rabbit huts” is that rabbits have the reputation of reproducing frequently (hence the saying “breeding like rabbits”), and the saying “making like rabbits” refers to people who have sex multiple times in one night. Rabbits are receptive to mating about every 15 days, and a rabbit pregnancy only lasts about 32 days .
Another theory is that “the clap” comes from “clappan,” which is “an Old English word meaning ‘to beat’ or ‘to throb.’ This likely reflected gonorrhea’s symptoms, which can include burning, itching, or pain” .
A third theory for the origins of the nickname refers to early treatment methods before the use of penicillin. One method involved a clinician injecting mercury, silver, or antibacterial agents into the infected urethra and pressed, or “clapped,” the sides of the penis to massage in the medicine. The other treatment seems perhaps the most unpleasant, which involved the clapping “of the hands on the penis — or slam it between heavy objects — in an attempt to clear the discharge” .
Thanks to modern medicine, blunt force trauma to the genitals is not standard practice for treating gonorrhea.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) that infects the urethra, rectum, throat, or cervix. It is most often transmitted via vaginal, oral, or anal sex, but it can be passed from a pregnant person to an infant during childbirth .
All of the following symptoms are outlined by the Mayo Clinic .
Common symptoms of gonorrhea in males include:
Common symptoms of gonorrhea in females include:
You can get tested from home by using Everlywell’s at-home chlamydia test to get a diagnosis. If your test results come back and indicate that you may have chlamydia or gonorrhea, you will be connected to our independent physician network and may receive treatment from them, at no extra charge to you.
If you aren’t sure or have questions about getting tested or your test results, you can make a Virtual Care Visit with Everlywell.
With online STD testing and treatment from Everlywell, you can discuss gonorrhea treatment with a healthcare provider quickly and easily. Depending on your insurance, you pay between $10 and $60. Many major insurance plans are accepted.