Sexual problems - Gonorrhea FAQ

Gonorrhea FAQ

What is Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacteria that infects men, women and infants. An estimated 1 million cases of gonorrhea are reported each year while at least that same number go unreported.

What are the Symptoms of a Gonorrhea Infection

Symptoms of gonorrhea usually appear two days to three weeks after a person has been exposed to someone with the infection. Some men and women will not have symptoms at all until the disease has caused severe health problems.

painful burning sensation with urination Vaginal discharge
Milky white to yellow discharge from the
painful, burning sensation with urination
Redness and swelling around the opening
of the penis
Lower abdominal pain and fever
pain and swelling in the testicles

How are Gonorrhea Infections Transmitted

Gonorrhea infections are most often spread during vaginal, oral or anal sexual contact. In addition, babies can get gonorrhea during birth if the mother has this infection.

How Do I Know if I have a Gonorrhea Infection

In many cases, it is very difficult to detect the symptoms of gonorrhea. people may be unaware that they have an infection and can carry the disease for long periods without knowing it. Other people have no idea they might have gonorrhea infection until a partner(s) is diagnosed and treated. Thus, the only sure way to know is to be tested.

Can Gonorrhea Infections be Dangerous

Yes. Even if symptoms are not present, gonorrhea infections can create serious health problems. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause:

permanent damage to the reproductive organs, causing chronic pain and infertility (difficulty in getting pregnant). Eye infections
Sterility (unable to have children).
Ectopic or tubal pregnancy - A serious condition which can cause maternal death.
Arthritis (painful swelling in joints)

How Are Gonorrhea Infections Diagnosed

Diagnosis is made by culturing material from the cervix in women and the penis in men. A cotton swab is used to collect these samples that are sent to a laboratory for testing. Test results take about three days to obtain. This test is usually not painful and can be done even when there are no symptoms.

How are Gonorrhea Infections Treated

Although gonorrhea can be serious if left untreated, it can be cured with antibiotics. Treatment consists of antibiotics (usually penicillin, erythromycin or tetracycline) prescribed to fight the infection. It is important to complete all the medication as directed to ensure successful treatment. Unfortunately antibiotic treatment cannot reverse complications already caused by infection.

How can I prevent a Gonorrhea Infection

Guidelines for preventing gonorrhea infections are the same as for preventing other STD's.

  • The best defense against gonorrhea is not having sex with anyone (abstinence) or having sex only with one non-infected partner who has sex only with you.
  • Use protection during sexual activity. Condoms (rubbers), used properly from start to finish for each sexual contact, are the best protection. Spermicidal foams and jellies, and diaphragms are less reliable and should be used along with condoms, not in place of them.
  • If you suspect that you have been exposed to gonorrhea, see a doctor right away. Be sure your partner is treated also. Avoiding sexual activity until the gonorrhea infection is gone is very important. Otherwise, partners can infect and reinfect each other. Also, partner(s) of those with gonorrhea should be tested and treated promptly to prevent further spread of the disease.

A follow-up appointment will be scheduled three to six weeks after antibiotics are completed for another gonorrhea culture. It is important to reculture for gonorrhea to ensure proper and complete treatment.

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