What was once a less common disease due to antibiotic treatment is now one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases today. This is likely because new gonorrhea strains have become resistant to traditional medications. So, is gonorrhea curable?
How is gonorrhea transmitted? The answers may surprise you. We will answer these questions and discover the symptoms that vary between men and women.
What is gonorrhea? Gonorrhea is widely known as “the clap.” This sexually transmitted disease (STD) is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is an infection of the rectum, urethra, or throat in both females and males. It can also be present in the female cervix.
Do I Have Gonorrhea? The Symptoms
Gonorrhea may or may not present symptoms, and is often linked to those between the ages of 15 and 24. Yet, older adults and seniors are just as susceptible to the disease failing safe sex practices.
If you show no symptoms, you are referred to as a nonsymptomatic carrier. If there are symptoms, they can present within one to 14 days of initial contact. Symptoms can vary depending on whether you are female or male. Both types of cases are contagious; however, a person with no symptoms has a higher risk of spreading the infection.
For men, any symptoms can be suppressed for several weeks or may not appear at all. Symptoms usually begin with a painful burning sensation with urinating before progressing to:
- Frequent urination
- Urination urgency increase
- Painful stools
- Anal discharge
- Green, white, or beige thick discharge from penis
- Redness at penis tip
- Swelling of tip of penis
- Testicle or scrotum pain
- Testicle swelling
- Joint pain
- Swelling of joints
- Constant sore throat
- Light sensitivity
- Eye discharge
In women, the symptoms can mimic other infections such as a vaginal yeast infection. This can make a quick diagnosis difficult. Common female gonorrhea symptoms may include:
- Watery or thick vaginal discharge
- Painful burning sensation with urination
- Frequent urination
- Spotting blood
- Heavy blood flow during menstrual cycle
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Swelling of the vulva
- Sore throat
- Abdomen pain
- Painful bowel movements
- Bloody stools
- Painful joints
- Light sensitivity
- Eye discharge
Is Gonorrhea Curable?
Finally, we can answer the important question: Can gonorrhea be cured? Yes, it is a curable infection, but the treatment may vary depending on the strain. Basic antibiotics can cure many cases of gonorrhea, with a few being antibiotic-resistant. These unique cases may need several different doses of antibiotics such as azithromycin, cefixime, ceftriaxone, or doxycycline. It is essential to finish these medications as directed by a physician even after symptoms diminish, which can take one to two weeks.
Treatment is crucial as long-term complications, for both men and women, can arise with any gonorrhea case. Men may face issues with fertility as the infection could spread and cause the patient to be sterile. It can also spread throughout the body once it enters the bloodstream. The gonorrhea infection may put a man at a higher risk for contracting the human immunodeficiency virus.
Gonorrhea in women left untreated may lead to the pelvic inflammatory disease, known as PID. This disease can cause severe problems such as scar tissue, which can obstruct the fallopian tubes and may lead to infertility. A pregnancy outside of the womb, referred to as an ectopic pregnancy, may also happen.
How Is Gonorrhea Transmitted?
As it is a sexually transmitted disease, gonorrhea is contracted through bodily fluids of the mucous membranes of the genitals, rectum, and mouth. This can occur through unprotected vaginal and anal sex as well as through oral sex.
Gonorrhea can also be transmitted to a newborn during birth if the mother is a carrier or has an outbreak of the infection.
Some patients have contracted the infection through the sharing of unwashed sex toys, or by failing to apply a condom with each use.
During an appointment, be ready to answer questions about your sexual activities, as well as to undergo a physical examination by your physician. If any of the symptoms are present, or if you believe you have contracted gonorrhea, a proper diagnosis is confirmed with results of testing the cells. A cell sample may be obtained through a urine test to check for the bacteria, or from a swab of the vagina, urethra, rectum, or throat.
Doctors suspecting a blood infection may choose to take a blood sample for further testing. The cells will be stained and viewed under a microscope, and a reaction to the stain may confirm gonorrhea infection. However, this speedy method is not 100% reliable.
Many doctors across the world are required to report any cases of gonorrhea and other STDs to their local public health branch. This is in order to contain the contagious infection by notifying and testing all parties involved that may be at risk for contracting gonorrhea disease.
As gonorrhea can reoccur, it is recommended to have testing done every three months after treatment. Gonorrhea test kits are available to women for at-home use. Each kit contains vaginal swabs for testing, which are then sent to a lab for processing. Results can be obtained over the phone via toll-free hotline or read online.
People who have experienced a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea, are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Having multiple sexual partners or beginning a sexual relationship with a new partner can also raise the risk.
Aside from abstinence from sexual activity, gonorrhea may be prevented with:
- Protected vaginal or anal sex with condom use
- Protected oral sex with condoms or dental dams
- Monogamous sexual activity
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacteria strain that is becoming increasingly difficult to treat, even with proper antibiotics. This infection is contagious through body fluid exchange by various sexual activities. It can also be spread from mom to baby during childbirth. Symptoms for men and women vary, and both can experience complications that may be permanent.
It is important to distinguish this infection from others as early treatment can help prevent the disease from spreading to other regions of the body. Prevention of any STD is the best way to avoid the effects of gonorrhea.
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