What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a type of sexually transmitted disease caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. This bacteria thrives in the moist and warm areas of the reproductive tract, including the uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes in women and in the urethra in men. This bacteria can also thrive in other areas in the body such as the mouth, throat, eyes and the anus.

How is gonorrhea transmitted?

As with most STDs, gonorrhea is primarily spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex. It is important to note, however, that ejaculation is not necessary for transmission to occur.

In addition, people who have been treated for gonorrhea can become infected again if they have sexual contact with someone with the disease.

Symptoms of gonorrhea

People infected with the bacteria goes through 10 to 20 days before any symptoms may show up. But there are other people who may be having gonorrhea but may not be showing any visible signs or symptoms of the disease. About 30 to 60 percent of people with gonorrhea are asymptomatic or do not show or experience any visible symptoms.

In the case of women infected with gonorrhea, the symptoms may range from mild to even asymptomatic. Other women may even mistake gonorrhea as either a bladder or vaginal infection.

Initial symptoms that may show up include a burning sensation when urinating, increased vaginal discharge as well as bleeding in between menstrual periods. Whether an infected woman shows visible symptoms of the disease or not, gonorrhea has the possibility of developing serious complications arising from the infection.

In the case of men infected with gonorrhea, the symptoms may show as early as two to five days after infection. Some infected men may wait for as long as 30 days before the symptoms may show. Some of the symptoms of gonorrhea in men include painful urination, a white, yellow or green discharge from the penis as well as having painful and swollen testicles.

What risks does gonorrhea present if left untreated?

Women:

If untreated, gonorrhea can lead to severe complications in both men and women. Untreated gonorrhea in women can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease which is a serious infection of the uterus that can further lead to infertility.

Other complications include the development of septic arthritis in the wrists, fingers, toes and ankles.

Men:

In men, untreated gonorrhea usually lead to inflammation of the epididymis where the sperm is being stored.

Other complication in men includes inflammation of the prostate gland or of the urethral structure.

How is gonorrhea treated?

The use of certain antibiotics is the main treatment for gonorrhea in adolescents and adults. But because of improper self-treatment of antibiotics among people embarrassed to approach doctors for their infection, there has been an increase of several antibiotic resistant strains of gonorrhea. This has made available treatment even more difficult to come by.