What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea, otherwise known as “the clap” or “the drip,” is a common sexually transmitted bacterial infection. The areas affected are largely the genital tract but it can also affect other areas of the body such as the rectum ,eye and joints.
What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?
Usually, people who have gonorrhea do not know it as symptoms rarely show up. When they do, they typically occur in the genital areas. Some of the signs and symptoms of gonorrhea are:
- Painful urination
- Frequent, persistent, and urgent urination
- Inflammation and redness on the penis
- Pain or inflammation in the testicles
- Pus-like discharge from the rectum and penis
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Increase in vaginal discharge
- Bleeding in between the periods
- A sharp pain in the abdomen
- Vaginal bleeding and pain after vaginal intercourse
- Eye pain
- Pus-like discharge from the eyes
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Septic arthritis (a bacterial infection in the joints that causes pain, redness, and inflammation)
When should you visit a doctor?
Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. However, if you don’t treat it quickly, it can lead to health problems in the future. Consult your doctor if you notice any suspicious symptoms, particularly pus-like discharge from the rectum, vagina, or penis. If your partner is diagnosed with gonorrhea, get yourself tested as well because you might be asymptomatic.
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How is gonorrhea diagnosed?
If your doctor is suspicious of a gonorrhea infection, you may have to take the following tests to diagnose gonorrhea:
- A urine test: You will be asked to provide a sample of your urine, which will be sent to a laboratory for testing.This can help determine the presence of bacteria in your urethra.
- A swab of the affected area: A swab taken at your throat, urethra, rectum, or vagina will be taken using a swab. The swab collects bacteria that can be identified in a lab. A sample of the fluid from your symptomatic joint will be drawn to diagnose joint infection. A stain will be added to these samples in the laboratory and observed under a microscope. Alternatively, the sample will be placed on a dish and incubated under ideal growth conditions. After several days, if the presence of a colony of gonorrhea cells are observed, gonorrhea will be diagnosed.
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What are the causes of gonorrhea?
The bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes gonorrhea . It is a sexually transmitted disease that can spread through sexual contact, including oral, anal, and vaginal intercourse.
How does one acquire Gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhea is transmitted through the bodily fluids of an infected partner. The gonorrhea bacteria are carried in the semen and vaginal fluids. It can also be acquired by the baby perinatally from the mother during childbirth.
What are the treatments for gonorrhea?
Home remedies and OTC medications cannot treat gonorrhea. You must seek medical help if you are diagnosed with gonorrhea. Treatment options for gonorrhea are:
- Adults: Gonorrhea treatment for adults includes antibiotics. A common treatment given to uncomplicated gonorrhea patients is the antibiotic ceftriaxone. It is administered as an injection along with azithromycin given orally. If you’re allergic to ceftriaxone, you might be given gemifloxacin orally or gentamicin via injection and oral azithromycin.
- Babies: Babies who contract the infection due to their mother’s infection during childbirth can be treated with antibiotics.
After starting treatments with antibiotics, you should feel relief within a few days. Avoid sex until you entirely recover.
How can one prevent gonorrhea?
Follow the given tips to reduce the chances of contracting gonorrhea:
- Use a condom: Avoiding sex is the surest way to eliminate the chances of acquiring gonorrhea. However, if you choose to have sexual intercourse, use a condom or other barrier contraceptives during any type of sexual act, including oral sex, anal sex, and/or vaginal sex. Unless you are trying to get pregnant, do not exchange bodily fluids with your partner.
- Limit the number of sex partners: Refraining from having sex with different people and changing your partner frequently can lower your risk of contracting this infection.
- Screening: Before engaging in sexual intercourse, make sure you and your partner get tested for STDs and share your results with each other. Regular screening is recommended to prevent acquiring the infection. Annual screening must be done for sexually active women under the age of 25, especially women who have more than one sex partner, a new partner, a partner with other sex partners, or a sex partner who has an STD.
- Don’t have sex with someone who might have STDs: If your partner’s unusual symptoms make you suspicious of gonorrhea, do not have sex with him/her until they are screened for STDs. If your partner complains of a burning sensation while urinating or a genital rash, ask them to visit the doctor before you have sex with them.
- Beware of recurring infections: To avoid getting infected again, abstain from intercourse until both you and your partner havecompleted treatment.
What are the risk factors of gonorrhea?
Some of the risk factors of gonorrhea are:
- Women under 25 years of age who are sexually active.
- Men who have sex with other men.
- Having unprotected sex
- Having oral sex
- Changing your sex partner
- Having more than one sex partner
- Having a sex partner who has other partners
- Having had gonorrhea or another sexually transmitted infection
What are the complications of gonorrhea?
While treating gonorrhea is relatively easy, leaving it untreated for a long time can lead to several serious complications. Some of them are:
- Infertility in women: Gonorrhea can affect the uterus and fallopian tubes, resulting in PID (pelvic inflammatory disease). PID can, in turn, result in the scarring of fallopian tubes. It also increases the risk of infertility and pregnancy complications like ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in which the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus).
- Infertility in men: Gonorrhea can cause the epididymis (a small tube located in the rear side of the testicles that carries sperms) to become inflamed. This condition is termed epididymitis. Untreated epididymitis may greatly increase the risk of infertility in men.
- Complications in babies: A baby who acquires gonorrhea from its mother before or during birth may develop blindness, infections, and/or sores on the scalp.
- Increased risk of AIDS: Having gonorrhea makes you vulnerable to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, which can be life threatening .
- Cardiac and brain problems: When the infection enters the bloodstream, heart valve damage, arthritis, or swelling of the spinal cord’s lining or brain may occur. While these complications are rare, they are dangerous.
Gonorrhea can be resolved fully if diagnosed and treated early. Your partner must also go through screening and treatment for gonorrhea, even if there are no visible symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How long will it take to cure gonorrhea?
Symptoms of gonorrhea usually calm down in a week. Pain in the testicles may take longer to abate. Bleeding between menstrual cycles usually stops after the next cycle.
- How long can you be unaware of a gonorrhea infection?
Sometimes, you may not show any symptoms for a long period. However, you can still transmit the infection to someone else. For symptomatic people, symptoms usually show up between 2-5 days. Sometimes they can take up to 30 days to appear.
- Can gonorrhea be passed orally?
While gonorrhea can be passed via oral sex, note that casual intimacy such as kissing does not facilitate the transmission of gonorrhea.
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