A comprehensive overview of gonorrhea covering subjects as symptoms, diagnostics, research, causes and pictures
Gonorrhea, a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease is a bacterial infection caused by Neisseria gonorrheae microbe that is spread by sexual contact. Gonorrhea is often characterized by viscous secretions from the penis or vagina. However, many people do not have any signs or symptoms. The disease is transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids during unprotected sex, homosexual or heterosexual, with an infected partner. The many partners you have, the more your risk is higher.
Contrary to popular belief, you can not get gonorrhea from toilet seats or from the door handles. The bacteria that cause gonorrhea require a very specific growth and reproduction conditions. It can not live outside the body more than a few seconds or minutes, it can not live on the skin of the hands, arms or legs. It survives only on moist surfaces inside the body and is found most commonly in the vagina and cervix. Gonorrhea can live in the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder).
Gonorrhea can exist in the back of your throat (from oral-genital contact) and rectum. Also, a pregnant woman infected with gonorrhea can give gonorrhea to her child during birth. Regular contact such as kissing does not transmit the disease. When there is infection in the genital tract, mouth or rectum of a child is most often due to the fact that he was been sexually abused. Gonorrhea treatment involves antibiotics to eliminate infection. Practicing safe sex is important in preventing gonorrhea.
About half of those who are infected present no symptoms. People who present no symptoms may be unknowingly transmit gonorrhea infections to their partners.
Throat, anus, urethra and rectum are common areas of infection in both men and women. If there are symptoms, they may include painful urination, anal itching or bleeding or abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina.
A woman with gonorrhea may have no symptoms or may have symptoms so mild that they may not be noticed until it becomes more severe. In some cases, women will feel a burning sensation when urinating; will present a yellow-green vaginal discharge or bleeding in intercourse. Women may also have vaginal bleeding between periods. Involvement of the urethra is causing dysuria (painful urination), purulent secretion and urinary frequency (thick). The combination of urethritis and cervicitis on examination is highly relevant in diagnosis as both sites are infected in most patients.
If the infection becomes more widespread and passes into the uterus or fallopian tubes, it can cause abdominal pain, fever and pain during intercourse and the above symptoms. (This is called extended infection or pelvic inflammatory SIP).
Men who have gonorrhea are more likely to notice symptoms although they may have gonorrhea without knowing it. They often feel a burning sensation when urinating and may have a whitish-yellow discharge from the penis.
What happens if I don't treat gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea can be very dangerous if left untreated even to someone who has mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. In women, the infection can pass into the uterus, in the fallopian tubes and ovaries (causing pelvic inflammatory syndrome) and can lead to damage and sterility (infertility, inability to have children). Tubal damage leads to increased risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy because a fertilized egg may not be able to pass through the fallopian tube and narrowed injured.
Ectopic pregnancy is a very serious problem that may threaten a woman's life. Infection with gonorrhea during pregnancy may cause problems for the newborn, including meningitis (an inflammation of membranes around the brain and spinal cord) and an eye infection that can lead to blindness if not treated. In women, Bartolini and abscesses occur (causing difficulty in walking), pelvic inflammatory syndrome. In men, gonorrhea can reach the epididymis (the structure attached to the testicle that helps transport sperm) the area causing pain and inflammation of the testicles. This can lead to injuries that could make the man sterile (infertile).
In both sexes, gonorrhea may result from anal intercourse with an infected person or from spreading the infection from genital area. This can cause discomfort in the anal area and a leak in this area but in many cases no signs or symptoms are present.
If you think you might have gonorrhea or if you have a partner, who may have had gonorrhea, go to the family doctor or gynecologist. He will examine you, which will include taking samples from the vagina or penis discharge to be given to the analysis. Sometimes doctors can diagnose gonorrhea by urine analysis of a person. Inquire with your doctor what tests are appropriate for you. The doctor can do gonorrhea testing and other tests for other STDs such as syphilis or Chlamydia.
If you are diagnosed with gonorrhea, your doctor will prescribe gonorrhea antibiotics to treat the infection. All those who have had sexual relations should be immediately tested and treated for gonorrhea. This includes any sexual partners in the last two months or last sexual partner if it has been more than two months after the last sexual contact.
If a sexual partner has gonorrhea, quick treatment will reduce the risk of complications for that person and will reduce your chances of reinfection if you have sex with that partner again. (You can even reinfect with gonorrhea even after you have been treated, because the fact that you have had gonorrhea will not make you immune).
In the past, treatment of uncomplicated gonorrhea was quite simple. A single injection of penicillin cured almost any infected person. Unfortunately, there are new strains of gonorrhea which have become resistant to various antibiotics including penicillin and therefore are more difficult to treat. Fortunately, gonorrhea can be treated with other oral medications or injections.