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Gonorrhoea: Causes, Symptoms, Complications, Diagnosis And Treatment

A sexually transmitted disease, gonorrhoea is caused by a sexually transmitted bacterium that can infect both men and women. It is an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoea. The infection affects the urethra, rectum or throat and in females, it can affect the cervix too, that is, it affects the warm and moist areas of the body.

It can also spread from infected mothers to children during childbirth, and in babies, the infection affects the eyes [1] .

The condition normally does not pose any sudden symptoms, therefore you may not realise that you have gonorrhoea. The infection is common and causes pain in the genital tract, rectum, throat, eyes, or/and joints. In comparison, the disease mostly affects men [2] .

Causes Of Gonorrhoea

The disease is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoea. One can get the infection through vaginal, anal and oral intercourse.

If one gets in contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus of someone carrying this bacterium, you can get gonorrhoea [3] .

Symptoms Of Gonorrhoea

The signs begin to develop within 2 to 14 days after exposure. In some people, the symptoms will not be visible and are defined as a nonsymptomatic carrier, but is still contagious. The symptoms in both men and women can differ and they are mentioned below[4] .

Symptoms of gonorrhoea in men usually develop with a burning or painful sensation during urination and develop into the following [5] :

  • Sore throat
  • Pain and swelling in the testicles
  • Redness or swelling at the opening of the penis
  • Pus-Like discharge from the penis
  • Urgency or urination

Symptoms of gonorrhoea in women usually develop like that of a vaginal yeast or bacterial infection [6] . And they are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Discharge from the vagina
  • The need to urinate more frequently
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating
  • Sore throat
  • Heavier periods or spotting
  • Sharp pain in the lower abdomen
  • Pain upon engaging in sexual intercourse

Risk Factors Of Gonorrhoea

Certain factors can increase your risk of gonorrhoea infection and they are as follows [7] :

  • New sex partner
  • Having other sexually transmitted infections
  • A sex partner who has concurrent partners
  • Previous gonorrhoea diagnosis
  • Young age
  • Multiple sex partners

Complications Of Gonorrhoea

The infection, when left untreated can cause various health complications[8] .

  • Infertility in women and men
  • Infection that spreads to the joints and other parts of your body
  • Increased risk of HIV/AIDS
  • Complications in babies

Diagnosis Of Gonorrhoea

To examine and understand whether the gonorrhoea bacterium is present in your body, the doctor will begin the diagnosis by analysing a sample of cells [9] .

The diagnosis will include a urine test and a swab (of throat, urethra, vagina or rectum to collect bacteria that can be identified in a laboratory).

Treatment For Gonorrhoea

Antibiotics are the most effective treatment for gonorrhoea infections. Gonorrhoea is usually treated with an antibiotic injection or oral consumption.

Gonorrhoea can be cured with the right treatment. And if you are pregnant talk with your doctor so that you can receive the correct testing, examination and treatment as soon as possible [10] .

Prevention Of Gonorrhoea

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the only way of reducing the risk of gonorrhoea is to avoid having vaginal, anal or oral sex [10] .

  • Use a condom if you choose to have sex
  • Consider regular gonorrhoea screening
  • Ask your partner to be tested for sexually transmitted infections
  • Avoid multiple partners
  • Get regular screenings if you are a man who has sex with men, a sexually active woman under the age of 25, and a woman who has multiple sexual partners
View Article References
  1. [1] Taylor, S. N., Marrazzo, J., Batteiger, B. E., Hook III, E. W., Seña, A. C., Long, J., ... & Mueller, J. (2018). Single-dose zoliflodacin (ETX0914) for treatment of urogenital gonorrhea. New England Journal of Medicine, 379(19), 1835-1845.
  2. [2] Fifer, H., Natarajan, U., Jones, L., Alexander, S., Hughes, G., Golparian, D., & Unemo, M. (2016). Failure of dual antimicrobial therapy in treatment of gonorrhea. New England Journal of Medicine, 374(25), 2504-2506.
  3. [3] Hethcote, H. W., & Yorke, J. A. (2014). Gonorrhea transmission dynamics and control (Vol. 56). Springer.
  4. [4] Cohen, D., Spear, S., Scribner, R., Kissinger, P., Mason, K., & Wildgen, J. (2000). " Broken windows" and the risk of gonorrhea. American journal of public health, 90(2), 230.
  5. [5] Potterat, J. J., Rothenberg, R. B., Woodhouse, D. E., Muth, J. B., & Pratts, C. I. (1985). Gonorrhea as a social disease. Sexually transmitted diseases, 12(1), 25-32.
  6. [6] Yorke, J. A., Hethcote, H. W., & Nold, A. (1978). Dynamics and control of the transmission of gonorrhea. Sex Transm Dis, 5(2), 51-56.
  7. [7] Lajmanovich, A., & Yorke, J. A. (1976). A deterministic model for gonorrhea in a nonhomogeneous population. Mathematical Biosciences, 28(3-4), 221-236.
  8. [8] Yokoi, S., Deguchi, T., Ozawa, T., Yasuda, M., Ito, S. I., Kubota, Y., ... & Maeda, S. I. (2007). Threat to cefixime treatment for gonorrhea. Emerging infectious diseases, 13(8), 1275.
  9. [9] Handsfield, H. H., Lipman, T. O., Harnisch, J. P., Tronca, E., & Holmes, K. K. (1974). Asymptomatic gonorrhea in men: diagnosis, natural course, prevalence and significance. New England Journal of Medicine, 290(3), 117-123.
  10. [10] Rothenberg, R. B. (1983). The geography of gonorrhea: empirical demonstration of core group transmission. American journal of epidemiology, 117(6), 688-694.
Story first published: Thursday, September 5, 2019, 9:30 [IST]