What is Gonorrhea and its symptoms?

gonorrhea


Gonorrhea is a bacterial  sexually transmitted infection that can infects both sexes, females and males. Gonorrhea in many cases attacks the urethra, rectum or throat. When it infects women, gonorrhea never spars the cervix

The common ways through which gonorrhea is contracted are  during vaginal, oral or anal sex. When a pregnant woman is infected, the baby gets gonorrhea through child birth and the most attacked parts are eyes of the baby.


Correct condom use, abstaining from sex and sticking to one partner in a relationship are the best things to do for STIs prevention.


What are  gonorrhea Symptoms?

Gonorrhea can infect many body parts but the commonly attacked are genitals. Symptoms may not show sometimes but also depends on the part infected.

 Genital tract gonorrhea

In men, the Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea  include:

In women, the Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea  include:

  • Increased abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal bleeding  that happens  after vaginal sex
  • Lower Abdominal or pelvic pains


Gonorrhea on other body parts

Gonorrhea can also affect these parts of the body:

  • Rectum. Signs and symptoms include anal itching, pus-like discharge from the rectum, spots of bright red blood on toilet tissue and having to strain during bowel movements.
  • Eyes. Gonorrhea that affects your eyes can cause eye pain, sensitivity to light, and pus-like discharge from one or both eyes.
  • Throat. Signs and symptoms of a throat infection might include a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Joints. If one or more joints become infected by bacteria (gonococcal arthritis), the affected joints might be warm, red, swollen and extremely painful, especially during movement.

When should you get concerned?

Just like any other disease gonorrhea should be suspected if your genitals are discharging or painful and if you had an un-protected sexual activity. Gonorrhea requires treatment to avoid bad complications once you suspect see a doctor.

Causes

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The gonorrhea bacteria are most often passed from one person to another during sexual contact, including oral, anal or vaginal intercourse.


Risk factors

Sexually active women younger than 25 and men who have sex with men are at increased risk of getting gonorrhea.

Other factors that can increase your risk include:

  • Having a new sex partner
  • Having a sex partner who has other partners
  • Having more than one sex partner
  • Having had gonorrhea or another sexually transmitted infection

Gonorrhea Complications 

Untreated gonorrhea can lead to major complications, such as:

  • Infertility in women. Gonorrhea can spread into the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)PID can result in scarring of the tubes, greater risk of pregnancy complications and infertility. PID requires immediate treatment.
  • Infertility in men. Gonorrhea can cause a small, coiled tube in the rear portion of the testicles where the sperm ducts are located (epididymis/ orchitis) to become inflamed (epididymitis). Untreated epididymitis can lead to infertility.
  • Infection that spreads to the joints and other areas of your body. The bacterium that causes gonorrhea can spread through the bloodstream and infect other parts of your body, including your joints. Fever, rash, skin sores, joint pain, swelling and stiffness are possible results.
  • Increased risk of HIV/AIDS. Having gonorrhea makes you more susceptible to infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that leads to AIDS. People who have both gonorrhea and HIV are able to pass both diseases more readily to their partners.
  • Complications in babies. Babies who contract gonorrhea from their mothers during birth can develop blindness, sores on the scalp and infections.

Prevention

To reduce your gonorrhea risk:

  • Use a condom if you have sex. Abstaining from sex is the surest way to prevent gonorrhea. But if you choose to have sex, use a condom during any type of sexual contact, including anal sex, oral sex or vaginal sex.
  • Limit your number of sex partners. Being in a monogamous relationship in which neither partner has sex with anyone else can lower your risk.
  • Be sure you and your partner are tested for sexually transmitted infections. Before you have sex, get tested and share your results with each other.
  • Don't have sex with someone who appears to have a sexually transmitted infection. If your partner has signs or symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection, such as burning during urination or a genital rash or sore, don't have sex with that person.
  • Consider regular gonorrhea screening. Annual screening is recommended for sexually active women younger than 25 and for older women at increased risk of infection. This includes women who have a new sex partner, more than one sex partner, a sex partner with other partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.

    Regular screening is also recommended for men who have sex with men, as well as their partners.

To avoid getting gonorrhea again, abstain from sex until after you and your sex partner have completed treatment and after symptoms are gone.


Diagnosis

To determine whether you have gonorrhea, your doctor will analyze a sample of cells. Samples can be collected by:

  • Urine test. This can help identify bacteria in your urethra.
  • Swab of affected area. A swab of your throat, urethra, vagina or rectum can collect bacteria that can be identified in a lab.

For women, home test kits are available for gonorrhea. They include vaginal swabs for self-testing that are sent to a specified lab for testing. You can choose to be notified by email or text message when your results are ready. You can view your results online or receive them by calling a toll-free hotline.

Testing for other sexually transmitted infections

Your doctor may recommend tests for other sexually transmitted infections. Gonorrhea increases your risk of these infections, particularly chlamydia, which often accompanies gonorrhea.

Testing for HIV also is recommended for anyone diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. Depending on your risk factors, tests for additional sexually transmitted infections could be beneficial as well.


Read also: STD testing


Treatment

Gonorrhea treatment in adults

Adults with gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics. Due to emerging strains of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that uncomplicated gonorrhea be treated with the antibiotic ceftriaxone — given as an injection — with oral azithromycin (Zithromax).

If you're allergic to cephalosporin antibiotics, such as ceftriaxone, you might be given oral gemifloxacin (Factive) or injectable gentamicin and oral azithromycin.

Gonorrhea treatment for partners

Your partner also should go through testing and treatment for gonorrhea, even if he or she has no signs or symptoms. Your partner receives the same treatment you do. Even if you've been treated for gonorrhea, a partner who isn't treated can pass it to you again.

Gonorrhea treatment for babies

Babies born to mothers with gonorrhea who develop the infection can be treated with antibiotics.

What you can do

When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.

Make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, if you have any, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment, and when they began
  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Gonorrhea frequently asked question:

  • What tests do I need?
  • Should I be tested for other sexually transmitted infections?
  • Should my partner be tested for gonorrhea?
  • How long should I wait before resuming sexual activity?
  • How can I prevent gonorrhea in the future?
  • What gonorrhea complications should I be alert for?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Summary

For gonorrhea to complicate it takes ignorance of symptoms, that means you can avoid them complications. The rule of thumb in any infection including gonorrhea is to be attentive to your body so you easily notice the abnormal occurrences and report to the healthcare provider.

The street name for gonorrhea in Zambia is "leaking" 


Jose Phiri

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