It is a very common bacterial sexually transmitted disease that affects both males and females. Gonorrhea mostly affects the urethra, rectum or throat but in females it may also affect the cervix. In babies gonorrhea mostly affects the eyes. In some cases, infected people don’t show symptoms. Being in a monogamous relationship, using a condom during sex and abstaining from sex are ways to prevent sexually transmitted diseases
Symptoms of gonorrhea usually shows up 2-5 days after infection, however in men it may take up to a month to appear. Other do not show any symptoms at all. This is especially dangerous because they do not seek treatment and continue to spread the disease to sexual partners. It also puts them at risk for serious complications.
In men symptoms may include:
- burning and pain while urinating
- increase in frequency of urination and urgency
- pus-like discharge from the tip of the penis – this may be white, yellow or green
- tender or swollen testicles
- sore throat (gonococcal pharyngitis)
In women symptoms may include:
- painful urination
- discharge from the vagina
- increased urination
- sore throat
- painful sex
- severe pain in lower abdomen – this symptom is due to infection spread to the fallopian tubes and stomach area. It is usually accompanied by fever.
- vaginal bleeding between periods, such as after vaginal intercourse
- pelvic pain
- Conjunctivitis (red, itchy eyes)
Gonorrhea can be treated and cured. The goal here is to treat the infected persons and their sexual partners. In adults gonorrhea is treated with an antibiotic which could be oral or through an injection. It is important to take all your antibiotics even if you feel better. Never treat your gonorrhea with someone else’s medication. This only makes it hard to treat yours. Due to emerging strains of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoea, a group of medications known as cephalosporins is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to treat uncomplicated cases of gonorrhea.
You can be reinfected if your partner is not treated. It is important that your partner gets test and treated. Your partner will receive the same treatment you do. This helps prevent further spread of the disease.
Babies born to mothers with gonorrhea receive a medication in their eyes soon after birth to prevent infection however if infection does occur they are given antibiotics to treat it.
CAUTION – Do not have sex when being treated.
Abstinence is the only absolute method of preventing gonorrhea. You can also reduce your risk by being in a monogamous relationship and use condoms when you have sex. Also ask your partner to get tested for the disease and consider regular gonorrhea screening if you are at increased risk.