Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted disease in the US, affecting 121 out of 100,000 people on average, and 358,366 people total in 2006. It is a bacterial infection, caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Infections can spread to the anus, throat and eyes as well as to genitals, though infection in women is almost always cervical rather than vaginal.
Not everyone with Gonorrhea shows symptoms, and if symptoms do manifest they may take as many as 30 days to do so, but infection can spread just as easily regardless. Gonorrhea spreads through contact with bodily fluids, especially through sex, but including contact with blood. Gonorrhea can spread to infants during childbirth, and mothers at risk of gonorrhea should consult their doctors for immediate post-natal treatment.
Promiscuity is the largest risk factor of gonorrhea; the more partners one has, the more likely one of their partners will have gonorrhea. Women becoming sexually active at younger ages may also be more likely to catch gonorrhea, due to incomplete cervical development.
The symptoms of gonorrhea most prominently include thick, greenish yellow or white discharge from the infected person’s genitals and a burning sensation while urinating. Men may experience a painful swelling of the testicles in cases of advanced infection, and women may notice patches of ‘spotted’ or ‘mottled’ flesh on their vaginal lips immediately after sex.
If you or or your partner display any of these symptoms, it is highly encouraged that you get tested immediately.
The Importance of Treatment
Gonorrhea is rarely fatal, but commonly causes infertility if left untreated. Eye infections can eventually result in permanent blindness, especially in infants if they are infected during birth. In men, permanent damage may be done to the prostrate gland and urethra, causing lasting pain during urination. Gonorrhea can make it easier to both be infected by, and infect others with HIV.
Detection and Treatment
Gonorrhea is most easily detected through a urine test. If you feel you are at risk of having Gonorrhea, contact our counselors immediately for to get tested. Catching the disease in its earliest stages is the largest factor in preventing damage and reducing risk. Testing is an easy procedure, and gonorrhea is treatable with antibiotics.