What is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea refers to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which is caused by an infection with the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The disease is likely to infect the warm and moist areas of the body. Such areas include the eyes, throat, vagina, urethra, anus, and the female reproductive tract.
If an early diagnosis is made, the condition can be effectively treated. However, when left without treatment, gonorrhea can lead to long-term complications. Gonorrhea types may depend on the potential complications it can result in.
Gonorrhea symptoms are generally noticed with two to fourteen days of exposure. But not all people develop noticeable symptoms on infection with gonorrhea. It is crucial to remember that even if a person is a nonsymptomatic carrier, or does not have any noticeable symptoms, they are still contagious and are, in fact, more likely to spread the infection.
In men, gonorrhea symptoms generally begin appearing within a week of transmission. In some cases, men may not develop symptoms for up to several weeks, or may never show any symptoms. The symptoms include:
- Painful sensation during urination
- Urgency of urination
- A pus-like discharge from the penis
- Swelling or redness at the opening of the penis
- Pain or swelling in the testicles
- A persistent sore throat
In women, gonorrhea symptoms are likely to be mild and similar to other infections, making the disease difficult to identify. In many cases, the symptoms may not develop at all. Gonorrhea symptoms in women include:
- Watery, creamy or slightly green discharge from the vagina
- Burning sensation or pain during urination
- Frequent urination
- Heavier periods or spotting
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Sharp pain in the lower abdomen
- Sore throat
Who is at risk?
Gonorrhea risk is higher in sexually active women under the age of 25 and men who have sex with men. Other risk factors include:
- Having a new sex partner
- Having more than one sex partner
- Having a partner who has other partners
- Having had gonorrhea or another STI earlier
Gonorrhea infection is caused by the bacterium N. gonorrhoeae which thrives in warm and moist places. Therefore, gonorrhea infection can affect any mucous membranes including the ones in the genital areas, eyes, mouth, throat, and rectum.
Gonorrhea causes for an individual who isn’t directly affected by the bacterium includes sexual contact involving the penis, vagina, anus, or mouth. Ejaculation in men is not necessary for passing on or getting gonorrhea.
The infection can also be passed on from a pregnant woman to the baby during delivery.
How is Gonorrhea diagnosed?
The doctor may begin gonorrhea diagnosis by asking the patient about the symptoms and medical history as well as sexual history. The doctor may carry out gonorrhea test by collecting samples like:
- Urine sample to check for any bacteria in the urethra
- A swab of the affected area, usually the urethra, penis, cervix, anus, or throat.
Home test kits are also available for women.
The doctor may also recommend testing for other STIs as gonorrhea may put a person at a higher risk of those infections. Chlamydia is one such infection that often accompanies gonorrhea.
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How is Gonorrhea treated?
There are no at-home remedies and over-the-counter gonorrhea medication that can treat the disease. Medical attention is vital to the infection.
Gonorrhea treatment is generally done with an antibiotic injection of Ceftriaxone once to the buttocks or a single dose of azithromycin taken orally.
If a person is allergic to the antibiotic Ceftriaxone, they may be given oral Gemifloxacin or injectable gentamicin.
With emerging strains of the drug-resistant bacteria, public health officials recommend a more extensive gonorrhea medicine treatment with ceftriaxone and oral azithromycin.
It is vital for partners of a person infected with gonorrhea to go through testing for gonorrhea and get treatment as required. In cases where babies are infected with gonorrhea, due to transmission from their mother during pregnancy, treatment can be done using antibiotics.
How can Gonorrhea be prevented?
Gonorrhea prevention can be done by practicing the following steps.
- Use a condom during sexual contacts, including oral sex, anal sex, or vaginal sex
- Limiting the number of sex partners can lower your risk
- Be sure that both you and your partner are tested for STIs
- Don’t have sex with a partner if they seem to have signs and symptoms of an STI. Abstain from sex until the partner has undergone treatment and is free from symptoms.
- Get screened for gonorrhea regularly