Gonorrhea can affect anyone who engages in sexual activity. When left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to serious consequences, but it can be treated with the appropriate medications.
Gonorrhea is a relatively common bacterial infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1.6 million new gonococcal infections occurred in the United States in 2018. Many infections, however, are asymptomatic, so reported cases only represent a small portion of the true burden.
Treatment for gonorrhea is comparatively easy, but delaying treatment can lead to serious, and possibly permanent, problems. Epididymitis, an inflammation of the tube that delivers sperm, is a possible complication in men with gonorrhea. Infertility may arise as a result of this.
What is Gonorrhea?
It is one of the commonest sexually transmitted diseases (STD) which can affect both men and women equally. The bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the causative organism for this disease. It is a highly prevalent infection, particularly among young people between the ages of 15 and 24.
The mucous membranes of the reproductive system, including the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes in women, and the urethra in both women and men, can be infected by N. gonorrhoeae. N. gonorrhoeae can also infect the mouth, throat, eyes, and rectum.
How Can a Person Contract Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is spread through sexual contact with an infected partner’s penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. Ejaculation is not required for gonorrhea transmission.
People who have had gonorrhea and received treatment are at risk of becoming infected again if they have sexual contact with a gonorrhea-infected person.
Gonorrhea can infect anyone who engages in sexual activity. In the United States, sexually active teenagers, young adults, and African Americans have the highest reported rates of infection.
If you are sexually active, have an open and honest conversation with your doctor about whether you should be tested for gonorrhea or other STDs. You should get tested for gonorrhea every year if you are a sexually active man who is gay, bisexual, or has sex with men.
You should be tested for gonorrhea every year if you are a sexually active woman less than 25 years old or an older woman with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
Can I Reduce The Risk of Getting Gonorrhea?
The only way to avoid contracting STDs is to refrain from engaging in vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse.
If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk of getting infected with gonorrhea by doing the following:
- Being in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for STDs and has yielded negative results.
- Use condom as a protection each time you have sex.
How Do I Know If I Have Gonorrhea?
Many men who have gonorrhea have no symptoms. Dysuria or a white, yellow, or green urethral discharge that arises one to fourteen days after infection are signs and symptoms of urethral infection in men. Men with gonorrhea may also have testicular or scrotal pain if their urethral infection is worsened by epididymitis.
Both men and women may have discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements as a result of a rectal infection. Asymptomatic rectal infection is also possible. A sore throat is a symptom of pharyngeal infection; however, it is generally asymptomatic.
If you detect any of these symptoms, or if your partner has an STD or indications of an STD, such as an unusual sore, a foul discharge, or burning sensation when peeing, do not delay seeking professional help from your doctor.
If I Have Gonorrhea, How Will My Doctor Know?
Urine can be used to test for gonorrhea in many cases. Swabs may be used to collect samples from your throat and/or rectum if you’ve had oral and/or anal sex. A swab may also be used to obtain a sample from a man’s urethra or a woman’s cervix in some instances.
If someone has been diagnosed with gonorrhea, their sexual partner or partners should be tested as well.
Will Gonorrhea Go Away On Its Own Without Treatment?
In both women and men, untreated gonorrhea can result in serious and long-term medical problems.
Epididymitis can make gonorrhea more troublesome in men. In rare instances, this can result in infertility.
Gonorrhea can spread to the uterus or fallopian tubes in women, resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The symptoms, which can range from mild to severe include abdominal pain and fever. Internal abscesses and prolonged pelvic pain can result from PID. PID can also cause infertility or raise the chance of ectopic pregnancy by causing damage to the fallopian tubes.
If neglected, gonorrhea can spread to the bloodstream, resulting in a disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI). This can happen in cases where the individual has low immune response. Arthritis, tenosynovitis, and/or dermatitis are common symptoms of DGI. This issue has the potential to be fatal.
What Is The Treatment Option For Gonorrhea?
With the correct treatment, gonorrhea can be cured. The CDC now recommends a single 500 mg intramuscular dosage of ceftriaxone. When ceftriaxone cannot be used to treat urogenital or rectal gonorrhea, other options are available. Although treatment will stop the infection, it will not reverse any of the damage done before getting treated.
Antimicrobial resistance in gonorrhea is becoming more of a worry, and effective gonorrhea therapy is getting more challenging. For genital and rectal infections, additional testing to ensure that the infection was successfully treated is not required; however, if a person’s symptoms persist for more than a few days following treatment, he or she should see a health care practitioner to be reevaluated.
Gonorrhea re-infection is quite common. Individuals diagnosed with gonorrhea should get retested three months after the initial infection has been treated regardless how confident they believe that the treatment was successful.
Should I Tell My Partner If I Have Gonorrhea?
If a person has been diagnosed with gonorrhea and treated for it, he or she should inform all recent anal, vaginal, or oral sex partners so that they can be treated as well. This will lower the chances of the sex partners developing major gonorrhea complications, as well as the person’s risk of reinfection.
A person with gonorrhea and all his or her sex partners must refrain from having intercourse until they have finished their gonorrhea therapy and are no longer experiencing symptoms.
My Gonorrhea Was Treated. When Will I Be Able To Have Sex Again?
After you’ve completed all your medications, you should wait seven days before having sex. You and your sex partner(s) should avoid having sex until you have completed treatment to avoid being infected with gonorrhea again or transmitting gonorrhea to your partner(s). If you’ve already had gonorrhea and taken medication, you can still become infected if you have unprotected sex with someone who has gonorrhea.
Should I Get Tested For Gonorrhea Even If I Do Not Have The Risk For Gonorrhea?
Any sexually active individual can get gonorrhea, especially if they practice unprotected sex which can be either vaginal, anal, or oral. You should discuss with your health care provider about your risk factors and ask whether you should be tested for gonorrhea or other STDs.
As mentioned earlier, majority of gonorrhea cases do not show any symptoms. This poses a risk of spreading the infection is you are not in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with your sexual partner.
It is important to remember it is never wrong to get tested for STDs once you got involved in sexual activities. Getting diagnosed early can make treatment more effective as no long-term complications or permanent damage arises yet.
If you are experiencing any symptoms, or just want to do a routine screening, visit us at dtap clinics for more information.