All About Gonorrhea

What Is Gonorrhea?

A bacterium called Neisseria Gonorrhoeae is responsible for the STD commonly referred to as gonorrhea. Nowadays, you may hear gonorrhea and certain other STDs, called STIs. This stands for sexually transmitted infection. Like chlamydia, gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually-transmitted infections in the world today. In fact,it is not unusual for carriers of gonorrhea to also be infected with chlamydia bacteria.

In times past, gonorrhea was often called “the clap”. Physicians have struggled for centuries to treat patients with “the burning disease”. Early treatments included injecting mercury into the urinary tracts of those who were afflicted by the illness. Silver nitrate was taken orally in an effort to combat gonorrhea.

Fortunately, modern medicine has come a long way, and treating a gonorrhea infection is not nearly as traumatic as it once was. Oral antibiotics are highly effective in treating men and women carrying gonorrhea bacteria.

Gonorrhea Symptoms for Men

Globally, more men fall victim to gonorrhea than women. In North America, men (and women) of African descent are more likely to be struck by the illness than individuals from other ethnic groups. Homosexual and bisexual men contract gonorrhea more easily than heterosexual men.

Men will exhibit signs and symptoms of a gonorrhea infection more frequently than women. These may include a yellow or green discharge coming from the end of their penis, and painful urination accompanied by a burning sensation. A man's testicles may become swollen and hyper-sensitive. Rectal infections may develop in men as well as women. Any irregular discharge or discomfort during bowel movements may indicate a gonorrhea infection.

Gonorrhea Symptoms for Women

Unfortunately for women, while they are less likely to already be infected by the gonorrhea bacterium, it is far easier for a woman to become infected by a male carrier, than vice versa. That said, as many as half of the women that become infected with gonorrhea are asymptomatic. There are rarely any painful signs that the bacteria is present. There may be a slightly abnormal or excessive vaginal discharge, and bleeding between periods.

If a woman does show overt signs of having been infected with gonorrhea, they may manifest themselves in the following ways: she may experience pain during intercourse, bowel movements, or urination. These symptoms are similar to those experienced by women with bladder infections. If a woman is mistakenly diagnosed with a bladder infection and prescribed antibiotics to treat that condition, her situation is unlikely to improve if she has been exposed to gonorrhea.

As with men, rectal infections can also become an issue with women that have been exposed to the gonorrhea bacterium. This may cause discomfort during bowel movements, bleeding from the anus and abnormal discharge. If you exhibit any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is highly recommended that you make arrangements to see your physician.

How Do You Get Gonorrhea?

Any man or woman who engages in unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex is putting themselves at risk of a gonorrhea infection. Pregnant women can give their babies gonorrhea during childbirth. Serious health conditions may develop in infants that are infected with the illness, including eye, blood, and joint infections.

You cannot get gonorrhea by touching an infected individual, or by sharing plates, eating utensils and bathrooms.

Risks and Effects of Gonorrhea

Left untreated, women are susceptible to serious side effects from gonorrhea, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Infertility may result from scar tissue forming inside the woman's fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancy, a situation where a baby grows outside of the uterus, failing to anchor itself inside, is a serious and potentially fatal condition for mother and child.

Men and women are both more susceptible to HIV if they already have gonorrhea. Men may become sterile if a gonorrhea infection is left untreated. As with young children, it is possible for adults to develop blood and joint infections which can be life threatening.

Gonorrhea Treatment

Gonorrhea is developing a resistance to some conventional oral antibiotics. Rocephin is one antibiotic that continues to be highly effective in treating the infection. It is equally effective in treating women and men afflicted with gonorrhea. Babies born to infected mothers should begin immediate treatment to reduce the risk and severity of complications as the infants develop.

Gonorrhea Testing

Individuals who suspect that they may carry gonorrhea should speak to their doctor as soon as possible. Men and women will usually be asked for a urine sample. It may also be necessary to collect tissue samples from the rectum and throat. Women may need to have samples collected from their cervix as well.

Complications from Untreated Gonorrhea

Serious joint and bone infections can result if the infection goes untreated. Infertility is a risk for women and men. Women carriers have higher risk of miscarriages and complications during pregnancy.

Can We Prevent Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is completely preventable, if a sexually-active man or woman takes the appropriate precautions. Remaining in a stable monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is great way to eliminate the risk of contracting gonorrhea. If this is not possible, always practice safe sex. Properly (and consistently) used, condoms will protect both parties from transmitting or receiving gonorrhea and most other STDs.

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