The rate of gonorrhea among African Americans was 20.5 times greater than among whites in 2009 according to the CDC. American Indians and Hispanics are also disproportionately affected. Worldwide figures for gonorrhea infections stands at an estimate 62 million new occurrences each year. The United States alone contributes over 300,000 to that number.
The symptoms of gonorrhea appear relatively quickly, usually within 1 to 14 days of infection. Like many other STDs, it’s possible to have gonorrhea without knowing it. Many cases are asymptomatic and display no outward symptoms at all.
Gonorrhea Symptoms in women include:
- Yellow or greenish vaginal discharge, it may include strong smell.
- A burning sensation or pain whileurinating
- Irritation and/or discharge from the anus
Gonorrhea Symptoms in men are similar:
- A white or yellow discharge from the penis.
- A burning sensation or pain while urinating
- Irritation and/or discharge from the anus.
Transmission and Treatment
Gonorrhea is an STD, so it’s primarily transmitted during sex. Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex can pass on the infection relatively quickly.
Testing is straightforward. A physician will examine the genital area and samples will be taken using a cotton wool swab or sponge. This will happen in each infected area. They will mainly be the cervix, urethra, anus and throat. Women will also be given an internal pelvic examination. On occasion, a sample of urine may also be taken.
Treatment of gonorrhea is also straightforward. A course of drugs will be prescribed which will kill off the infection. The course must be completed, and the individual must then return for a further test to ensure the condition has been effectively eradicated.
Once treated, gonorrhea will only return if the individual becomes reinfected. The drug therapy is very effective at wiping out the infection.
Leaving any STD untreated isn’t a good idea. It’s important to have gonorrhea treated as soon as it’s presence makes itself known. Failure to do so can lead to serious complications.
- Gonorrhea can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which is an inflammation of the fallopian tubes. This increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy or premature birth.
- If a woman has gonorrhea when she gives birth, it’s likely the infection will be passed on to the child. The child could have agonoccocal eye infection, which must be treated with antibiotics as it can cause blindness. Ideally treatment would be given before birth.
- Gonorrhea can cause painful inflammation of the testicles and the prostate gland, potentially leading to epididymitus, which can cause infertility.
- It can also cause a narrowing of the urethra. This causes considerable pain urinating.
Like any STD, prompt identification and treatment is essential. The sooner the infection is brought under control, the less chance the patient has for developing complications.
A regular visit to a physician or sexual health clinic is advisable for those who have regular unprotected sex with people they aren’t sure of, or faithful to. A screen can test for most STDs in one visit, and results can be ready in days.