Gonorrhea Causes, Symptoms and Testing Procedures
Gonorrhea is a very common sexually transmitted disease. Also called the “clap” or “drip,” gonorrhea is a contagious bacterial infection transmitted most often through sexual contact with an infected person.
It is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in mucus membranes of the body. Gonorrhea bacteria can grow in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes in women, and in the urethra in women and men. The bacteria can also grow in the mouth, throat, and anus. Gonorrhea may also be spread by contact with infected bodily fluids. The infection is easily spread and occurs most often in people who have multiple sex partners.
How Common Is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a very common infectious disease. Each year about 700,000 people are infected with gonorrhea in the United States. Although most people with gonorrhea experience symptoms, between 20-40% are symptom free. given the high percentage of people who are symptom free, obtaining a Gonorrhea test is an important consideration.What Are The Symptoms of Gonorrhea?
Not all people infected with gonorrhea have symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they are often within 2-10 days after exposure, but can take up to 30 days and include the following:
Symptoms in Women
- Greenish yellow or whitish discharge from the vagina
- Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
- Burning when urinating
- Bleeding between periods
- Spotting after intercourse
- Swollen glands
In some women symptoms are so mild that they often go unnoticed.
Many women with gonorrhea discharge think they have a yeast infection and self-treat with yeast infection medications purchased over-the-counter.
Between 10-20% of women who are infected with gonorrhea develop PID. With PID, the infection moves from the cervix up into the pelvis, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries, and there can be pain in the pelvis, pain with intercourse, and fever in additions to discharge and bleeding.
If gonorrheal infections are left untreated, they can cause scarring in the genital area, which can lead to fertility problems in women and men as well as more serious complications.
Symptoms in Men
- Greenish yellow or whitish discharge from the penis
- Burning when urinating
- Painful or swollen testicles
- Penis can become slightly swollen
- Inflamed urethral opening
In some men symptoms are so mild that they often go unnoticed.
If gonorrhea is not treated, the symptoms may eventually disappear, but other more serious complications can occur.
What Happens If I Don’t Get Tested?
Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent problems in both women and men. Gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life-threatening. Also, people with gonorrhea can more easily contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.What You Need To Know About Gonorrhea
While gonorrhea is easily cured, untreated cases can lead to serious health problems. Among women, gonorrhea is a major cause of PID, which can lead to chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. In men, untreated gonorrhea can cause epididymitis, a painful infection in the tissue surrounding the testicles that can result in infertility. In addition, studies suggest that presence of gonorrhea infection makes an individual three to five times more likely to acquire HIV, if exposed.
Obtaining a confidential test for Gonorrhea is as simple as contacting our counselors to schedule a test at one of our local testing clinics near you.