Gonorrhea is an easily transmissible STD that affects both men and women. It can cause infertility in men and women when untreated. There may be no early symptoms of the infection. When symptoms develop, they can include burning during urination, vaginal or urethral discharge, and pelvic pain in women. Men may experience swelling of the testes and discharge from the penis. In some cases, the symptoms are mild and the condition is mistaken for a urinary tract infection or yeast infection.
Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. These bacteria can infect the genital tract, mouth, and rectum of both men and women. In women the opening to the uterus (cervix) is the first place of infection.
You can get gonorrhea during vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner.If you are pregnant and have gonorrhea, you may give the infection to your baby as it passes through your birth canal during delivery.
The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are carried in semen and vaginal fluids and cause a discharge in men and women. A small number of people may be infected for several months without showing symptoms.
For women, the early symptoms of gonorrhea often are mild. Symptoms usually appear within 2 to 10 days after sexual contact with an infected partner. When women have symptoms, the first ones may include:
►Bleeding associated with vaginal intercourse
►Painful or burning sensations when urinating
►Yellow or bloody vaginal discharge
More advanced symptoms, which may indicate development of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), include cramps and pain, bleeding between menstrual periods, vomiting, or fever.
Men have symptoms more often than women, including:
►White, yellow, or green pus from the penis with pain
►Burning sensations during urination that may be severe
►Swollen or painful testicles
If left untreated, men could experience prostate complications and epididymitis (inflammation of the testicles).Symptoms of rectal infection include discharge, anal itching, and occasional painful bowel movements with fresh blood in the feces. Symptoms typically appear 2 to 5 days after infection but could appear as long as 30 days later.
Healthcare providers usually use three laboratory tests to diagnose gonorrhea.
►Staining samples directly for the bacteria
►Detecting bacterial genes or DNA in urine
►Growing the bacteria in laboratory cultures
Many providers prefer to use more than one test to increase the chance of an accurate diagnosis.You usually can get the staining test results while in the office or clinic. This test is more accurate in men than in women.More often, healthcare providers use urine or cervical swabs for a new test that detects the genes of the bacteria. These tests are more accurate than culturing the bacteria.
The laboratory culture test involves placing a sample of the discharge onto a culture plate. A healthcare provider also can take a culture to detect gonorrhea in the throat. Culture also allows testing for bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotics used to treat gonorrhea.
Treating gonorrhea is becoming more difficult because drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing around the world. If you are pregnant, or are younger than 18 years old, you shouldn't be treated with certain types of antibiotics. Your healthcare provider can prescribe the best and safest antibiotic for you. Gonorrhea and chlamydia often infect people at the same time. Therefore, healthcare providers usually prescribe a combination of antibiotics, which will treat both diseases.
If you have gonorrhea, all of your sexual partners should get tested and then treated if infected, whether or not they have symptoms. Health experts also recommend that you not have sex until your infected partners have been treated.