Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Neisseria Gonorrhoea. Usually asymptomatic and more common among younger sexually active population, it can often remain unidentified and even unnoticed for long periods of time. Despite this, even when asymptomatic, gonorrhoea can cause sterility in both men and women, and as such, it should be treated as soon as possible. In order to achieve this, it is highly recommended to check for sexually transmitted diseases regularly, and especially so if you recently met a new sexual partner.
The modern strain of the bacterium has proven to be more resistant to treatments than in the past, but the disease is still easily treatable – with the combination of two different antibiotic treatments, gonorrhoea can be successfully eliminated from your body, roughly within one week.
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Gonorrhoea is caused by a type of bacterium commonly called gonococci. When infected, this species settles in the mucous membranes of the genitals and from there, it can be transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, regardless of the type (oral, vaginal or anal). It is important to note that this type of bacteria can live outside the human body for just a couple of seconds, so contrary to popular belief, one cannot get infected via toilet seat or water in the swimming pool.
The only way to get infected is through close contact between the mucous membranes which only happens during unprotected sexual intercourse, meaning hugging, kissing or lying in the same bed cannot spread the infection. One exception to this rule is the fact that a woman with gonorrhoea can infect her child during childbirth, in some cases causing eye inflammation.
In a large proportion of the affected people, gonorrhoea remains asymptomatic, meaning the infected won’t notice any symptoms, at least for some period of time. So, to be certain you’re not infected, you should get tested for STDs, especially if you had unprotected sex with a new partner.
Is symptoms such as skin rashes, painful urination, itching and discharge from penis or vagina manifest, you should immediately seek medical attention since this might be indicative of a later stage of a disease. The incubation period is between five days and one month.
Gonorrhoea Symptoms in Men
- Penis discharge
- Frequent urination urges
- Painful urination
- Swollen and sore testicles
Gonorrhoea Symptoms in Women
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Change of smell of vaginal discharge
- Painful urination
- Vaginal bleeding when not on period
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Oral Gonorrhoea Symptoms
Oral gonorrhoea can affect both men and women and is transmitted solely through oral sex, so even in this form, kissing cannot be a mechanism of infection. If you get gonorrhoea via oral sex, the symptoms will strongly resemble a common cold with a slightly sore throat and slight fever.
What is the Risk of Untreated Gonorrhoea?
When left untreated, this STD can lead to a number of serious health problems, including infertility (in both sexes) as well as spreading to the joints and bloodstream, sometimes, with lethal outcome. In men, this condition is known to cause epididymitis, an inflammation of a part of testicle which can be extremely painful, and in women, it can significantly increase the risk of miscarriage and problems and complications related to the childbirth.
For women, the bacteria can cause inflammation of the abdomen and the subsequent closure of the fallopian tube, leading to the increased possibility of ectopic pregnancy and even sterility.
If you suspect you might be infected with gonorrhoea, the best course of action is to get tested for the disease. In order to do so, you need to visit your doctor or gynaecologist. Another option can be STD clinic, an institution that allows patients to get tested anonymously which is a great option if you’re feeling too ashamed to go to your doctor.
The test is conducted on a sample taken from the places where the bacteria might be, including the genitals, anus or throat. It’s completely painless since the medical practitioner will use a graft to swipe the affected area. The test should be taken one week after the unprotected sex in order to get reliable and conclusive results.
What if I get Tested Positive?
The first thing is not to panic. Although finding out you have gonorrhoea can be embarrassing and very unpleasant, this disease is relatively common and easy to treat. If you do get tested positive, you need to do the following:
- Consult with your doctor about the recommended treatment immediately
- Inform your sex partner so they can seek treatment
- If you suspect it’s a long-term condition, also inform your previous sex partners so they can get tested
Although telling others that you have STD is always uncomfortable, there is nothing to be embarrassed about – many people have experienced some form of STD over the course of their life and they should be notified if they have been exposed to the infection, so they can get tested and if needed treated to stop the disease from spreading further.
The usual and most efficient treatment is a combination of two different antibiotics. If the disease is identified and treated while still in its early stages, the treatment should last no longer than one week. However, if the treatment wasn’t timely, the same approach should be enough, but over slightly longer period of time.
Azithromycin and Ciprofloxacin are most commonly prescribes antibiotics which inhibit the growth of bacteria. The first of them is a substance classified as macrolide – a broad group of antibiotics that are often used in treatment of gonorrhoea and chlamydia since it inhibits the metabolic processes within the bacteria, thus stopping their multiplication.
Ciprofloxacin, on the other hand, inhibits the enzyme synthesis in the bacteria, causing the bacteria to die. With the two treatments combined, bacteria will slowly be neutralized, without the chance to multiply beforehand, allowing you to finally beat the disease.
The exact details of the treatment, as well as recommended dosage, are usually recommended by a doctor. In some cases, both medicines should be taken as a single dose, while in others, the doctor might recommend splitting the treatments over the course of several days. Over the course of the treatment, you should avoid having sex in order to minimize the risk of introducing new bacteria before you have been fully recovered.