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Gonorrhea: What You Need To Know

Introduction

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection (STI) caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. It is commonly known as the ‘clap’ or ‘drip’. The infection can be painful and, if not treated early enough, can cause complications and serious health problems.

Causes and Risk factors

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and is usually spread by sexual contact. This includes anal, oral and vaginal sex. The bacteria are mainly found in discharge from the penis and in vaginal fluid and may also be transmitted through objects contaminated with fluid from an infected person.

A pregnant woman can also pass the infection onto her unborn infant.

The bacteria thrive in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract (cervix, urethra, rectum) and less commonly, the throat and eyes.

Symptoms

Not everyone infected with gonorrhea manifests symptoms. Generally, symptoms of gonorrhea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis and pain during urination.

Specific symptoms may vary and include:

In men:

An unusual whitish, greenish or yellow discharge from the tip of the penis.

Painful urination

Rarely, pain or tenderness in the testicle

In women:

Greenish, yellow or whitish discharge from the vagina.

Painful urination

Lower abdominal or pelvic pain

Bleeding between periods

Rarely, bleeding after intercourse

Swelling of the vulva

Conjunctivitis

Diagnosis

Gonorrhea can be easily diagnosed by testing a sample of the vaginal or penile discharge. Samples are taken using a swab and sent to the lab for analysis. Testing a urine sample can also be used to diagnose the condition in men.

It is important to get diagnosed early enough because untreated gonorrhea can lead to serious complications and health problems such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and Infertility.

Treatment

Gonorrhea is usually treated with a combination of an antibiotic injection and tablet. Sometimes, another antibiotic tablet can be prescribed instead of an injection.

With effective treatment, most of the symptoms are expected to resolve within a few days.

It is very important to get treatment together with sexual partners to prevent reoccurrence of the infection.

It is recommended that follow up sessions are attended and sexual contact is avoided till the infection is confirmed to have been eliminated.

Prevention

The risk of infection with Gonorrhea, like other STIs can be reduced significantly with the use of condoms.

More specifically, to reduce the risks of infection,

Practice sexual abstinence or limit sexual contact to one uninfected partner.

Avoid sharing sex toys.

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