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  STD Gonorrhea  
 
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Signs, symptoms and indicators | Conditions that suggest it | Contributing risk factors | It can lead to... | Recommendations

 

Gonorrhea is one of the most well known STDs. Commonly referred to as 'the clap', gonorrhea is thought to infect over one million people in the US each year. Perhaps half of these cases are never reported. The disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhea which causes inflammation of the glands. The bacteria grows and multiples in the warm moist areas of the body. It primarily affects the urethra in men and the cervix in women. Gonorrhea of the rectum is also possible.

The symptoms of gonorrhea depend on what part of the genital area is infected. There may, however, be no symptoms present and some individuals may unknowingly infect others. Most women experience no symptoms if gonorrhea infects the cervix. Consequently, many women will experience complications before being aware of their infection.

It will take anywhere from two days to two weeks for the gonorrhea bacteria to incubate and create noticeable symptoms after transmission through sexual intercourse. However, in some cases, people who have been infected will show no symptoms for as long as a year. Even more unique to this disease, many people infected with gonorrhea bacteria will never show symptoms until more serious complications begin. In fact, 30-60% of women, and 10% of men will be asymptomatic until complications occur. But, people who show no symptoms are at a much greater risk for developing advanced complications, and for transmitting the disease to others. This is a key reason why the disease continues to spread and why screening for gonorrhea bacteria is very important, particularly if you are a pregnant woman. This makes gonorrhea an easily contractible disease. Any form of unprotected sexual penetration (oral, anal and vaginal) can transmit gonorrhea if it is present. If a man has vaginal intercourse with an infected woman, his chances of catching gonorrhea are from 30 to 50%. A woman's risk from an infected man is higher (60-90%). If gonorrhea is not treated quickly complications may occur.

Other means of catching the disease exist but are not as common. A person with gonorrhea can infect another area of their body by touching the infected area and transferring the excretions. Gonorrhea may also spread in clothing or wash cloths. If a washcloth is used on an infected area and then soon after used by another, infection may occur. Anal infection can occur in women not only from anal intercourse but also from vaginal intercourse. Sometimes infected secretions from the vagina drip down around the anus causing infection. The bacterium must originate from a mucous membrane and be transferred to another mucous membrane. It is not transmitted through regular skin and is not viable once a secretion has dried.

In early 20th century orphanages, it was common for a child to arrive with the disease, and within months others had it. It is believed that this was because they shared bathwater and towels, and the bacterium can survive in warm water for many hours.

"International consensus guidelines state that Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection in pre-pubertal children is always, or nearly always, sexually transmitted. A systematic literature review does not concur with this. N gonorrhoea was believed to solely sexually transmitted when first identified in the 1880s. However it became recognised that when the infection was introduced into children's institutions, it rapidly spread among pre-pubertal girls. The medical literature records over 40 epidemics involving about 2000 children in Europe and the United States. Communal baths, towels or fabric, rectal thermometers and caregivers hands were identified as means of transmission. Although sensitive to heat and drying, gonorrhoea may remain viable in pus on cloth for several days. Several unusual accidental transmissions are reported, often due to contamination from laboratory samples. Indirect transmission occurs in epidemics of conjunctivitis in third world rural populations. Spread of infection can occur via contaminated hands of infected caregivers. While all paediatric cases of gonorrhoea must be taken seriously, including contact tracking and testing, forensic medical examiners should keep an open mind about possible means of transmission. Doctors and lawyers need to be cognisant of the large body of literature demonstrating both sexual and non-sexual means of transmission of gonorrhoea in children." [J Forensic Leg Med. 2008 Oct;15(7):471-2; author reply (Dr Goodyear-Smith) 473-5.]
 

 
 

Signs, symptoms & indicators of STD Gonorrhea:
 
 
Symptoms - Gas-Int - General  (Slight) rectal discharge or rectal discharge with blood
 Gonorrhea may cause an infection of the anus. Like the oral infection, the anal infection often causes no observable symptoms. The infection may, however, cause anal discomfort or itching as well as an anal discharge of pus or blood.

Symptoms - Glandular

  Painful inguinal nodes
 The groin will sometimes feel swollen and tender.

Symptoms - Metabolic

  Having chills from an illness or frequent 'chills'
  Having a slight/having a moderate/having a high fever

Symptoms - Reproductive - General

  Genital sores

Symptoms - Urinary

  (Very) painful urination
 If gonorrhea has infected the urethra, a man or woman may experience a burning sensation while urinating and additional discharge from the urethra. The burning may be extremely or mildly painful, and is complicated by the fact the patient may feel the need to urinate more often.

  Urinary discharge
 If gonorrhea has infected the urethra, there may be a discharge which is clear or milky and ranges in color from white to yellow-green.
 
 

Conditions that suggest STD Gonorrhea:
 
 
Infections  Epididymitis
 Men may suffer from infertility following gonorrhea if the epididymis is scarred.

  Pharyngitis
 Gonorrhea may cause an infection of the mouth. An oral infection normally produces no symptoms, but in some cases a sore throat will be experienced.

Organ Health

  Prostatitis
 In men the bacteria can spread up the urethra and affect the prostate, seminal vesicles, Cowper's glands and the epididymis. An abscess will form causing pain, fever and chills. This abscess will eventually drain which releases pus into the urethra or anus.

Skin-Hair-Nails

  Pruritus Ani

Uro-Genital

  Male Infertility (Low Sperm Count)
 Men may suffer from infertility following gonorrhea if the epididymis is scarred.

  Increased Urinary Frequency
  Vaginitis/Vaginal Infection
 Women who do experience symptoms notice an increased vaginal discharge and some irritation of the vulva. Women may have problems with infected Bartholin's glands. If swelling blocks the duct, a sore will form. The lower part of the vulva will become red on the infected side.

  Female Infertility
 Gonorrhea can spread into the womb and fallopian tubes, resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID affects more than 1 million women in the United States every year and can cause infertility and tubal pregnancy.
 
 

Risk factors for STD Gonorrhea:
 
 
Symptoms - Urinary  History of urinary discharge
 If gonorrhea has infected the urethra, there may be a discharge which is clear or milky and ranges in color from white to yellow-green.
 
 

STD Gonorrhea can lead to:
 
 
Uro-Genital  Increased Urinary Frequency
  Vaginitis/Vaginal Infection
 Women who do experience symptoms notice an increased vaginal discharge and some irritation of the vulva. Women may have problems with infected Bartholin's glands. If swelling blocks the duct, a sore will form. The lower part of the vulva will become red on the infected side.

  Female Infertility
 Gonorrhea can spread into the womb and fallopian tubes, resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID affects more than 1 million women in the United States every year and can cause infertility and tubal pregnancy.
 
 

Recommendations for STD Gonorrhea:
 
 
Drug  Antibiotics
 Treatment with antibiotics is effective against gonorrhea. Penicillin and tetracycline are commonly used, however some strains of gonorrhea have developed resistance to these treatments and other drugs such as ceftriaxone or spectinomycin may also be used. Often Chlamydia and gonorrhea occur simultaneously and are treated together. Always consult your physician about the treatments best for you.
 
 


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