Gonorrhea - What Is It? How Is It Diagnosed? How To Treat and Prevent It?

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Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrheoeae. It is commonly known as the clap with its symptoms including - pain and burning during urination, discharge from the penis or testicular pain. This infection is transmitted through sexual contact - whether its oral, anal or vaginal sex. Most symptoms appear one week after contracting the infection, it is also possible that no symptoms appear at all. Most women are asymptomatic while those who are symptomatic, experience symptoms such as vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse. If left untreated, women can have pelvic inflammatory syndrome or ectopic pregnancy while for men, having Gonorrhea increases the risk of having prostate cancer. Gonorrhea occurs 0.2% more than men and has an estimated amount of 106 million cases per year.

Modes of Transmission

Just like other sexually transmitted infections, sexual contact and body fluids are the most common modes of transmission. Below

  • Perinatal Transmission. Gonorrhea can be transmitted from a mother to a child during pregnancy. When the infant’s eyes are affected, it is called ophthalmia neonatorum.
  • Body Fluids. Like most sexually transmitted infections and diseases, Gonorrhea can be transferred from one person to another through body fluids - these include, vaginal and seminal fluid.
  • Objects Contaminated with Body Fluids. Although the bacteria do not survive long in an outside environment, it is can still survive within minutes to hours and can still contaminate another person if used.
  • Men to Men Sex. For men who are engaging in sexual activities with other men, their risk for Gonorrhea is higher compared to men to women sex.

Testing and Diagnosis

Gonorrhea has a detailed and scientific way of diagnosis - some of these methods have been developed through the years with the continuous development in genetics and evolution of the different bacterias and organisms. The list below details the different methods used in testing and diagnosis of the occurrence of the Gonorrhea:

  • Gram stain and culture. This type of testing requires swabbing the infected site - this is either the throat, cervix or rectum. The samples gathered from the swab are cultured in a laboratory and the bacteria and its genetic composition are identified. This type of testing is more traditional and is highly dependent on the sampled area. It is possible that the sampled area does not contain bacteria.
  • Polymerase chain reaction. This type of testing still requires a sample - it can be urine, urethral swabs, cervical or vaginal swabs. However unlike gram and stain culture, even if there is minute existence of the bacteria in the sample - it is sufficient enough as the DNA is copied using an enzyme called polymerase and amplified thereby bacteria and virus identification is easier. This type of test is more expensive but provides faster and more accurate results.
  • Other sexually transmitted infections and diseases. If diagnosed with Gonorrhea, it is better to test yourself against other diseases as studies find that 46-54% in young adults have chlamydia together with Gonorrhea.

Tips For Prevention

Abstain from sex

If you do not want to get infected, it is best to abstain from sex or if you have had a sexually transmitted infection, it is best to abstain to avoid spreading of the infection.

Use condoms

Most infections can be prevented to be transmitted to a certain degree with the use of condoms. Ensure that the proper usage of condoms is done to ensure effectiveness.

Limit your number of partners

If abstaining from sex is not feasible, limiting your number of partners decreases the risk of getting Gonorrhea or any other sexually transmitted infection.

Regular screening for sexually transmitted infections and diseases

Having a regular screening for any sexually transmitted infection is a positive thing to do for yourself and your partner. You can discuss this with your partner to ensure that you are enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are at high risk at getting Gonorrhea?

Anybody can have Gonorrhea if they are sexually active. But a few people are at higher risk not only with Gonorrhea but also with other sexually transmitted diseases. These people include:

  1. People with multiple partners.
  2. People with partners that are engaging in a polygamous sexual relationship.
  3. People who have been diagnosed to have a sexually transmitted infection.

What are the complications of having Gonorrhea?

There are complications that come along if Gonorrhea is left untreated, for men and women - infertility is a complication as this affects the fallopian tubes for women and the sperm ducts for men. People with Gonorrhea and infections are also more susceptible to having HIV/AIDS.

Can Gonorrhea be cured?

Yes. Gonorrhea can be cured with the use of antibiotics. Depending on the patient and his antibiotic resistance, the correct antibiotic is administered to the patient.

I have been diagnosed with Gonorrhea, is it possible to be infected again?

Yes. Being diagnosed and treated from Gonorrhea does not exempt you from getting infected again. You can get it again if you are exposed to a person infected and it is a possibility that there will be no symptoms presented. It is highly encouraged to return for a follow-up checkup or consultation with healthcare personnel to do a re-testing.

Do men to men sexual intercourse increase the risk of getting Gonorrhea?

Yes but it rarely happens. This can occur with alcohol or drug abuse but in most cases, those who have been affected and were successfully treated develope a protective immunity to the virus.

Are there any other symptoms presented if Gonorrhea is left untreated?

If left untreated, the infected person will likely experience, fever, joint pains and swelling, a general feeling of tiredness and skin rashes. These symptoms are quite similar to other infections.

Does having a monogamous relationship help in preventing Gonorrhea?

Abstaining from sex or any form of sexual activity is what prevents sexually transmitted infections. However, having a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner prevents you and your partner from having a sexually transmitted infection - thereby having a healthy sexual lifestyle.

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Preventionwww.cdc.gov/hiv/basicsThe CDC provides diverse resources related to HIV and AIDS.
The Office on Women's Healthwww.womenshealth.govThe Office on Women's Health coordinates women's health efforts and tackles women's health challenges.
MedlinePluswww.medlineplus.govMedlinePlus provides valuable and high-quality information on HIV and AIDS.
World Health Organizationwww.who.intWorld Health Organization directs and coordinates the world’s response to HIV/AIDS.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Serviceswww.hiv.govThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a library of resources for HIV prevention and treatment.


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