Gonorrhea: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention & Treatment

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Gonorrhea is a type of sexually transmitted disease which is also known as clap or drip and it is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria Gonorrhoea.  It is a type of sexually transmitted infection in which sometimes there may be symptoms noticed and sometimes no symptoms are noticed at all. In men, there may be symptoms like burning with urination, testicle pain or discharge from the penis. Similarly, in case of women, there may be symptoms like burning while urinating, pelvic pain, vaginal discharge and vaginal bleeding.

According to reports, the diagnosis of burning Gonorrhea in England went up by 19 % in the year 2013-14. Most of the diagnosis made was among men who had sex with other men. Gonorrhea is treatable with use of antibiotics but lately, it has been discovered that it is becoming resistant to commonly used antibiotics.

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Cause of Gonorrhea

The main causative agent of Gonorrhea is Neisseria Gonorrhoea which is a bacterium that easily grows and multiplies in the mucous membranes of the body. The bacteria causing Gonorrhea can live and grow in warm place which includes the moist area around the reproductive tract. It includes the cervix which is the opening of womb and uterus which is the womb itself. Similarly, fallopian tubes or egg canals in the women or urethra which is the tube to carry the urine from the bladder to outside the body are also favourable parts for the bacteria to grow. The bacteria may also grow in other parts including the mouth, throat and anus of the person.

Therefore, Gonorrhea commonly spreads through sexual mediums such as vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It can also transmit from the pregnant woman to her unborn or newborn child. It is quite uncommon but this disease has also been noted to have transmitted by use of different infected contaminated objects like towels or clothes. This is quite rare because the bacteria can only survive outside of the body for a short time ranging from a few minutes to some hours.

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Signs and symptoms of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea may be hard to detect at times because there may always not be symptoms in people who are infected with Gonorrhea. Sometimes, there may not be any symptoms at all so it is necessary to know the exact time for treatment. The symptoms need at least 2-10 days to show up after the infection. In some cases, it may also take up to 30 days. The symptoms of Gonorrhea may be different in case of men and women. The major symptoms are as follows.

Symptoms in Men

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  1. Discharge from the penis which may seem white, green or yellow in colour
  2. Pain the testicles
  3. Burning feeling in the throat in oral sex
  4. Burning when passing urine
  5. Swelling of the throat glands due to oral sex
  6. Feeling tired and lethargic

Mostly in men, symptoms appear 5-7 days after the infection.

Symptoms in women

  1. Discharge from the vagina which may seem white, green or yellow in colour
  2. Pain in the lower abdomen or Pelvis region
  3. Feeling of burning while passing urine
  4. Redness and itchiness of eyes (conjunctivitis)
  5. Swelling in the throat because of oral sex
  6. Swelling of the glands in throat because of oral sex
  7. 7.Blood discharge between the periods
  8. Feeling tired and lethargic
  9. The vulva may get swollen

There may be misunderstandings regarding the Gonorrhea because many women may mistake it for yeast infection. It can lead to more problems when this happens and the women may rely on over the counter medications. Vaginal discharge can be a sign of many other sexual or reproductive health problems so it is necessary to seek medical attention on time. In some women, the signs and symptoms can be too mild and because of that, they may go unnoticed. In rare cases, Gonorrhea may also cause other problems like skin lesions and joint infection. Similarly, it may also cause endocarditis when it reaches the heart or meningitis when it reaches the spinal column. Having Gonorrhea is also linked to higher possibilities of having prostate cancer.

Diagnosis of Gonorrhea

In the past,  gram stain and culture were the more traditionally used methods for diagnosis of Gonorrhea but nowadays there are newer ways like the polymerase chain reaction or PCR based test. If the treatment fails in initial stages, then culture has to be done to find out about the sensitivity to antibiotics. A swab may be used by the doctor to take a sample from the cervix of women and urethra of men. The throat and anal swab may also be used to check if those areas are infected. A urine sample can also be checked to find out if there are any bacteria present.  If the person is found to be infected by Gonorrhea then it is necessary to conduct tests for other problems like syphilis, HIV or Chlamydia because all these other sexually transmitted infections have big chances of going together.

Cure and treatment of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea can be cured but it has been shown by various researchers that the disease is growing its resistance to many types of antibiotics. This disease has a tendency to change and adapt to the newer type of medications so the treatments have to be continuously changed to stay ahead of the problem. In the pastoral antibiotics were commonly used but nowadays doctor resort to injections for treatment of Gonorrhea. An injectable antibiotic called ceftriaxone was used in 2010. Usually, it is given with the combination of other medicines called azithromycin or doxycycline. The CDC recommended the use of both ceftriaxone and azithromycin in 2015. It is necessary to treat both the couple in case of infection because there will be a possibility of the infection to reoccur or spread. Another thing to remember is that you should not skip the medication or stop using it once you feel better. You have to finish the whole course and never use other’s medicines to treat your condition otherwise it may be more difficult to treat Gonorrhea in the future. You must avoid sexual activities until the doctor says it is safe to do so.

Complications of Gonorrhea

Complications may develop if the treatment is not done properly or on time. In case of women if the problem is left untreated then it can result in pelvic inflammatory disease damaging the fallopian tubes or even cause infertility. In case of the condition left untreated, there can also be a risk of ectopic pregnancy which is a dangerous condition in which the fertilized egg develops outside the uterus.

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In case of men, untreated Gonorrhea may cause epididymo- orchitis which causes pain in the testicles and may also lead to infertility. Gonorrhea can also affect the Prostrate which can cause scarring in the urethra. This can cause difficulty in passing urine.

Similarly, Gonorrhea in case of complication can affect the blood and the joints too. People with Gonorrhea are at higher risk of getting infected with other STDs like HIV. In case of pregnant women, if the condition is not treated on time then the child can also have the same condition or it may cause other problems to the baby including blood infection, blindness or joint infection.

Prevention of Gonorrhea

As it is always said “prevention is better than cure” so the best way to stay away from Gonorrhea is to following steps to stay safe from it. There are a few things which you need to follow to stay safe from Gonorrhea and they are as mentioned below.

  1. Use of condoms is a must each time you have sex.
  2. Have sex only with one trusted partner.
  3. Don’t switch between different sexual partners.
  4. Practice sexual discipline and abstinence.
  5. If you feel you have symptoms of the problem then avoid sex and seek medical attention immediately.

It is important that you immediately stop any sexual activities if you feel that you have any of the signs and symptoms of Gonorrhea. Similarly in case you are diagnosed with Gonorrhea then you are advised to inform all your previous sexual partners so that they can get themselves checked on time.

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