Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection(STD/STI). It is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It has the potential to lead to numerous complications when left untreated. Luckily, it can be cured with antibiotics.
How It Is Transmitted
Gonorrhea can infect the genitals, rectum, and oral cavities, as well as anywhere mucous membranes are present. It can be passed through any unprotected contact with the genitals. Infected mothers can also pass the disease on to their babies during childbirth.
Who It Affects
Males and females can contract gonorrhea. Younger people are statistically more likely to contract it, as are those with multiple partners and people who engage in unprotected sex.
Gonorrhea STD tends to be asymptomatic for the first several weeks after contracting the disease. In some cases, there are never any signs of the disease. Symptoms usually show up in men before they do in women. Signs of gonorrhea include:
- Burning during urination
- A more frequent urge to urinate
- Pus-like discharge from the penis
- Watery, creamy, or green vaginal discharge
- Rectal discharge
- Rectal pain and itching
- Rectal bleeding
- Painful bowel movements
- Swelling or tenderness near the urethra
- Swelling or tenderness in the testicles
- Persistent irritation of the throat
- Heavier periods or spotting between periods
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain in the lower abdomen
Untreated gonorrhea has the potential to lead to multiple health complications. With women, there are many risks to the reproductive organs. The disease can spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries causing pelvic inflammatory disease. As a result, the woman can become infertile, unable to have intercourse without pain, and more prone to ectopic pregnancies.
In men, there is a risk of scaring in the urethra. Additionally, they can develop abscesses in the interior of the penis, causing significant pain and infertility.
For both men and women, gonorrhea can enter the bloodstream and cause significant complications to various organs and tissues. These can include arthritis, heart valve damage, inflammation of the brain, and inflammation of the spinal cord. Women can also pass it along to their child at birth.
Because the risks associated with gonorrhea are so great, anyone who is sexually active should be tested for it and other STDs at least once a year.