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Gonorrhoea, causes, signs, complications and treatment


Gonorrhoea is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI). If it’s not treated early, it can cause painful complications and serious health problems. Gonorrhea can infect the urethra (the tube that allows urine and semen to pass out of the body), cervix, rectum, throat, mouth and eyes. Many people with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear one to seven days after infection. Symptoms can include vaginal pain, painful urination, and an abnormal discharge from the vagina, urethra or rectum.






What causes gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is caused by bacteria (tiny living cells) called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. They can live in the cervix (entrance to the uterus), the urethra (tube where urine comes out), the rectum (back passage), the throat and, occasionally, the eyes. Anyone who’s sexually active can easily get and pass on gonorrhoea. You don’t need to have lots of sexual partners.

How is gonorrhea transmitted?

Gonorrhea can be transmitted through sexual contact and sharing of sex toys. Transmission occurs when secretions from infected mucous membranes or semen of a person with a urethral infection come into contact with the mucous membranes of another person.
Condomless penetrative vaginal sex and anal sex are the highest-risk behaviors for the transmission of gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can be transmitted when a person who has the infection in their mouth or throat performs oral sex to another person or when a person performs oral sex on a person who has a genital infection. Oral-anal contact (rimming) can transmit gonorrhea as well.

Shared sex toys can also transmit gonorrhea. It is theoretically possible to transmit gonorrhea through a hand job or fingering if infected fluids are present. Gonorrhea can be passed during childbirth if the newborn has come into contact with infected vaginal discharge or fluid

What are the signs and symptoms?

If you are a woman
You can get gonorrhea in the anus, eyes, mouth, throat, urinary tract, or uterus. You may not notice any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they will vary depending on what part of your body is infected.
• Vaginal bleeding between your periods.
Pain or burning when you pass urine.
• Increased vaginal discharge.
If you have gonorrhea in the rectum, you might notice these symptoms: Itching, soreness, bleeding, a discharge from your rectum, or painful bowel movements. If you have gonorrhea in the throat, you might notice that your throat is sore.
You can get gonorrhea in the anus, eyes, mouth, penis, or throat. You may not notice any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they will vary depending on what part of your body is infected.

If you are a man
• Pain or burning when you pass urine.
• A discharge from your penis.
• Painful or swollen testicles.



If you have gonorrhea in the rectum, you might notice: Itching, soreness, bleeding, a discharge from your rectum, or painful bowel movements. If you have gonorrhea in the throat, you might notice that your throat is sore.

Complications

Untreated gonorrhea infection of the cervix can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This can result in chronic abdominal pain, infertility and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (a potentially serious complication of pregnancy where the embryo implants outside the uterus).

Untreated gonorrhea in the urethra can result in inflammation of the epididymis (called epididymitis). The epididymis is a tube in the testicle that stores and carries sperm. Epididymitis can result in infertility; however, this is a relatively rare occurrence.
Gonorrhea can be passed to a newborn during birth. Severe complications from an infection acquired during birth can include blindness, arthritis, meningitis (inflammation of the protective membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) and sepsis (infection of the bloodstream).

An untreated eye infection (conjunctivitis) caused by gonorrhea can cause scarring of the cornea. If left untreated, gonorrhea infection can enter the bloodstream and spread through the body (disseminated gonorrhea). This can lead to arthritis, skin lesions and tenosynovitis, which is an inflammation of the sheath surrounding the tendons (the tissues that connect muscle to bone). In rare cases, disseminated gonorrhea may lead to meningitis as well as inflammation of the heart or liver.

What is the treatment?

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. It is important to follow your treatment instructions carefully. If you were given pills finish all of them. Sexual partners from the last 2 months need to be tested and treated. If you have not had a sexual partner in the last 2 months, then your last sexual partner will need to be tested and treated. It takes time for the infection to clear from the body, so it is important that you do not have any oral, vaginal or anal sex for 7 days after you and your partner(s) start the antibiotic treatment.



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