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Infectious Disease Called Gonorrhea

ANNE is only 17 years old and is soon to graduate from high school. But recently, she misses her classes. Her teacher and classmates are alarmed by what she is doing. She is among the top students and if she continues missing her classes, she may not be joining the honor roll graduates.   What they never know is that Anne is having a problem. Two weeks ago, she had her first sexual encounter with her 19-year-old boyfriend from another university. Three days later, she felt a painful or burning sensation when urinating. There was also an increased vaginal discharge.
Being a teenager, she never knew what to do. She confided to a close friend, who had the same experience as hers. Her friend told her that Anne is suffering from a sexually transmitted disease called gonorrhea.



According to medical science, gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women, and in the urethra (urine canal) in women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus.

Gonorrhea is spread through contact with a man or woman's sexual organ, mouth, or anus. "Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhea to be transmitted or acquired," doctors said. In fact, it can also be spread from mother to baby during delivery.

All people are at risk for gonorrhea. But riskier are those people who are sexually active, having multiple sexual partners, and those who are engaged in the flesh trade.

Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. However, some men have signs or symptoms that appear two to five days after infection; symptoms can take as long as 30 days to appear.

Symptoms and signs include a burning sensation when urinating, or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. Sometimes men with gonorrhea get painful or swollen testicles.

In women, the symptoms of gonorrhea are often mild, but most women who are infected have no symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they can be so non-specific as to be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. The initial symptoms and signs are those that Anne experienced, including vaginal bleeding between periods.


According to doctors, symptoms of rectal infection in both men and women may include discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements. Rectal infection also may cause no symptoms. Infections in the throat may cause a sore throat but usually cause no symptoms.

Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men. In women, gonorrhea is a common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The symptoms may be quite mild or can be very severe and can include abdominal pain and fever. PID can lead to internal abscesses (pus-filled "pockets" that are hard to cure) and long lasting, chronic pelvic pain.

In men, gonorrhea can cause epididymitis, a painful condition of the ducts attached to the testicles that may lead to infertility if left untreated.

Gonorrhea is treatable with prescribed antibiotics. So, finding the disease early can help health care professionals treat you before it is too late. For this reason, it is important to getting tested regularly.

Originally, penicillin was the drug of choice. Today, the most commonly recommended treatment is an injection of a cephalosporin class of antibiotics called ceftriaxone (the dosage is 125mg). Alternative treatments include an oral cephalosporin called cefixime in a single 400mg dose. Other effective antibiotics include: ciprofloxacin 500mg in a single dose or azithromycin in a single 1 gm dose combined with 400mg of ofloxacin. You must notify all sex partners so they can be treated as well.

Although medication will stop the infection, it will not repair any permanent damage done by the disease. People who have had gonorrhea and have been treated can get the disease again if they have sexual contact with persons infected with gonorrhea.

If a person's symptoms continue even after receiving treatment, he or she should return to a doctor to be reevaluated. 

By the way, the surest way to avoid transmission of gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual intercourse, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhea.

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