Know Your STDs: Gonorrhea
Along with Chlamydia, Gonorrhea is one of the most common and easily spread sexually transmitted diseases in the United States today. The two often go hand in hand, and can make you more likely to become infected with other STDs as well. It’s important to recognize the signs and learn the risks involved in catching this disease.
What is Gonorrhea?
A common sexually transmitted bacterial infection. Gonorrhea can grow and multiply easily in any warm moist area. In addition to infecting the cervix or urethra, it can infect the throat or rectum, along with the uterus and fallopian tubes. Sexually active individuals should be tested at least once a year. The CDC estimates that more than 700,000 persons in the U.S. are infected each year, but only half of them are reported.
What are the symptoms of Gonorrhea?
Both men and women may have mild to no symptoms at all when they are infected. Symptoms usually take anywhere from a week to 3 weeks to develop. For women, the early stages usually have no symptoms. Symptoms can include vaginal discharge, burning during urination or recurring irritation. In men, gonorrhea usually includes penile discharge and severe burning during urination. Occasionally, men may get painful or swollen testicles.
Why is Gonorrhea harmful?
Untreated gonorrhea can have serious and permanent consequences for both men and women. It is a common cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which is hard to treat and may cause chronic pelvic pain, as well as infertility in women and an increase in risk for ectopic pregnancy.
Gonorrhea can also cause a severe inflammation of the urinary tract in men. It can cause severe arthritis (Reiter’s syndrome) in women and men; if the mother is infected at the time of delivery, it can cause blindness or other life threatening infections in newborns.
How do you treat Gonorrhea?
Antibiotics can successfully cure gonorrhea; however, long-term complications (such as infertility) may not be reversible. If prescribed antibiotics by a medical professional, it is important to complete the treatment to make sure the infection is gone. Please also note that curing the infection will not repair any permanent damage. If you suspect you may have Gonorrhea and need testing, it’s important to do so right away. Locate the nearest family planning clinic and set up an appointment.
*Some information pulled from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.