Some people are not sure what gonorrhea is even if they have heard something about it. Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacteria passed on during sexual intercourse. It can infect the throat, penis, urethra, vagina, anus or cervix. It is commonly known as ‘the drip’ or ‘the clap’.
If left untreated, gonorrhea is a serious health risk which yearly affects around 800,000 men and women in the United States.
Most of the time gonorrhea does not show any symptoms, more so with women. It has been reported that out of five women, four will not have symptoms while out of 10 men only one will not have any symptoms.
When symptoms occur, it usually starts between days 1 to 14 days after exposure.
Some women show symptoms and it would include:
- Yellow-green or yellow colored vaginal discharges
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Bleeding between periods
- Frequent urination
- Tenderness of swelling of the vulva
- Irregularities in the menstrual cycle
- Burning sensation during urination
- Painful sexual intercourse
IN men, the symptoms will be:
- Frequent urination
- Pus-like discharges from the penis
- Burning pain during urination
Gonorrhea could also cause itching in the anus which happens to both men and women. It can also cause oral infection which causes soreness in the throat making swallowing difficult and painful bowel movements accompanied by discharges.
In men, the symptoms could be mild and show mostly in the morning. This is why people could always be unaware that they are already infected.
Complications in pregnancy
Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious complications in pregnancy as it may lead to stillbirth or premature birth.
During birth, the infection can be passed to the fetus by the infected mother. The disease can cause eye, blood, and joint infections. Drops of antibiotics are normally used in the eyes of newborns to prevent the occurrence of serious eye infections that are caused by gonorrhea. The risk of transmitting the infection is greatly reduced when testing and treatment is done to a pregnant woman who has gonorrhea.
PID or pelvic inflammatory disease is a serious health complication caused by untreated gonorrhea which can lead to infertility in women as it affects the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
The untreated infection can also lead to infertility in men. The infection can quickly spread from the urethra to the testicles which result in epididymitis, a condition that can give extreme pain and swelling in the scrotum accompanied by fever.
Untreated gonorrhea has been found to develop a condition known as DGI or disseminated gonococcal infection which can cause skin sores and arthritis. Women have a higher risk of acquiring this condition than men, with teen girls having the highest rate of infection.
The symptoms will include:
- Pain in the joints
- Lesions or skin rashes
The condition is easily treatable if diagnosed early, but could damage joints permanently if left untreated.