Gonorrhea symptoms and detection
Gonorrhea is one of the most common diseases passed from one person to another during sexual activity. This sexually transmitted disease is experiencing an overall increase in reported cases. According to the CDC, gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported notifiable disease in the United States, with approximately 700,000 new infections of the STD reported each year. What is more disturbing than that number alone is the fact that there are more than 5% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 who have the disease unknowingly.
Gonorrhea infections seem to be more common in certain groups of people, with the highest reported infection rates being in adolescents and young adults, people (often poor) living in urban areas and Southern states, African Americans and drug users. Statistics also show that men have a 20% risk of becoming infected with gonorrhea, from the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria, by having sexual relations with an infected woman. Women on the other hand have a 50% risk of becoming infected by a man who has this STD. It is also possible for an infected mother to pass this usually sexually transmitted disease to her newborn during childbirth.
Should a person become infected with the gonorrhoeae bacteria, symptoms will usually appear within 2 to 10 days after contact with an infected person. Sometimes it can take as long as 3 weeks for symptoms to show up in women.
A woman who has contracted this STD may have no symptoms at all 30-40% of the time. This makes it important for women to have regular checkups if not in a monogamous relationship. Symptoms include bleeding between menstruation periods, a need to urinate often, or infection and irritation of the cervix or vagina. If left untreated, gonorrhea could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. This is a serious medical condition in women that could lead to infertility.
A man who has contracted the sexually transmitted disease may experience a thick, yellow discharge from the penis, pain or burning during urination, or inflammation and infection of the prostate or a testicular duct.
Due to the possible serious implications that gonorrhea can lead to, treatment and prevention are both a high priority. If left untreated, these infections can spread through the bloodstream in travel throughout the body. Once this occurs, a person could experience complications such as meningitis (inflammation of the brain) or endocarditis (an infected heart).
In the past, gonorrhea was treated with antibiotics such as Cipro, Floxin and Levaquin. However, new strains of the STD are resistant to such treatment and the CDC now recommends treatment with the cephalosporin class of antibiotics. Usually a doctor will prescribe a single-dose injection of an antibiotic such as Rocephin once it has been confirmed that a person is infected with the STD gonorrhea. Sometimes the prescribed treatment will be a pill such as Cipro. Those who are younger than 18 or pregnant will likely be given the shot as treatment.
Of course the important point to remember when discussing gonorrheal infections or the risk of coming into contact with any STD is prevention. Contracted an STD can be prevented in one easy step – use a latex condom during intercourse. Aside from that, it is important to know your partner’s sexual history. If you feel this person is a high-risk sexual partner, consider holding off on engaging in intercourse of any kind until you are certain they have no contagious diseases.