Gonorrhea

February 4, 2010

What Is It And How Does It Spread?

One of the most prevalent and common sexually transmitted diseases is gonorrhea. Caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae that grows and multiplies easily, this infection erupts in the areas where it can develop rapidly, specifically the moist areas of the reproductive tract of a woman, including the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes as well as in the urethra in both men and women. It also grows in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus.

Gonorrhea spreads through contact with an infected person's penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. The highest rates of infection are among teens and young adults who are sexually active and also the African-American population. Ejaculation is not necessary for the disease to be transmitted. Even though a person may have been treated for the infection, they can become reinfected upon contact with an infected person. Mothers who are infected with gonorrhea can spread the disease to their babies during delivery.

Symptoms Of Gonorrhea

In men, the symptoms of gonorrhea may show up or the man may have no symptoms at all. Men who do experience symptoms of the disease experience them two to five days after infection. In other cases, it can take as long as 30 days for symptoms to appear. The symptoms of gonorrhea in a man include a burning sensation when urinating, or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. Some men experience swelling and pain in their testicles.

Women may experience mild symptoms when infection happens. However, most women who are infected have no symptoms at all. Often, the symptoms of gonorrhea in a woman are mistaken for a bladder or a vaginal infection. Similar to male symptoms, a woman will experience painful or burning urination, increased vaginal discharge, or bleeding between menstrual periods. Regardless whether there are symptoms or not, a woman with gonorrhea is at risk for serious complication as a result of the infection.

When either a man or woman are infected rectally, they may experience anal discharge, itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowl movements. Again, there may be no symptoms at all. Likewise gonorrhea may produce a sore throat, but often there are no symptoms.

The Deadly Aftermath Of The Infection

If left untreated, gonorrhea can present serious problems for both men and women. In women, gonorrhea is a common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The symptoms of PID can be mild or severe and can include pain and fever. PID, when it develops into internal abscesses, can not only be hard to cure, but also create long-term, chronic, pelvic discomfort and pain in a woman. It can damage the fallopian tubes to the extent of causing infertility. Ectopic pregnancies are often attributed to PID. Men may also experience infertility as a result of gonorrhea through a condition called epididymitis which affects the ducts attached to the testicles.

Gonorrhea becomes life threatening when it spreads to the blood or joints. It also increases the risk of both contracting and transmitting HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS.

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