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Gonorrhea Facts, Transmission and Symptoms

What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease, caused by the bacterium, Neisseria gonorrhea. It thrives in warm, moist areas, such as the urethra, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, eyes, mouth, throat, and anus. Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, will reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhea.

How is it transmitted?

Because it is easily spread during contact with an infected penis, vagina, mouth, or anus, gonorrhea is a very common disease. Approximately more than 700,000 new infections occur per year in the U.S. Ejaculation is not necessary in order to transmit the bacteria. A previously treated gonorrhea infection does not provide resistance to a future gonorrhea infection.

Gonorrhea may be spread from a mother to her baby during delivery.

What are the symptoms?

Many infected individuals do not show symptoms. If symptoms do manifest, they usually appear two to five days after infection; however they make take up to 30 days to show. In men, these symptoms can include a burning sensation during urination, a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis, or painful or swollen testicles.

Women are less likely to show symptoms than men. Symptoms in women may be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Symptoms can include pain and/or burning during urination, increased discharge from vagina, as well as vaginal bleeding between periods.

Rectal symptoms can include discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, and painful bowel movements. Rectal symptoms may also be absent.

Pharyngeal infections (throat) usually show no symptoms, but may cause a sore throat.

If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health complications in men and women. In women, untreated gonorrhea commonly causes pelvic inflammatory disease. Symptoms for PID can be fever, abdominal pain, and pelvic pain. This damages the fallopian tubes, causing infertility and can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. In men, untreated gonorrhea may lead to epididymitis, damaging the ducts attached to the testicles, and leading to infertility.

Gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints, which can be life threatening. Lastly, people with gonorrhea are more likely to spread and receive HIV/AIDS.

Can gonorrhea be treated or cured?

Gonorrhea can be treated and cured. However, drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing worldwide, therefore successful treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more difficult. While the antibiotics should stop the infection, the permanent damage caused by gonorrhea is not reversible.



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