What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a highly-contagious STD (sexually transmitted disease) that can infect anyone who is sexually active. It causes infections in the throat, genitals, and rectum, it is quite common, especially between the ages of 15-24.
How does gonorrhea spread?
Having sex with someone who has gonorrhea. Also, a pregnant woman can spread the infection to the baby during childbirth.
How can I reduce the risk of infection?
Don’t have sex, essentially. If you’re sexually active, the ways to lower your chances for infection are:
• Using condoms (latex or polyurethane) the correct way, each time you have sex
• Being in a mutually monogamous relationship with someone who has been tested and has negative STD results
Am I currently at risk for gonorrhea?
Honestly, anyone who is sexually active outside of a mutually monogamous relationship is at risk, particularly during unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. If you’re sexually active, talk to a healthcare provider and ask if you should be tested for gonorrhea and other STDs. It’s recommended sexually-active people be tested every year.
What are the symptoms?
It’s common for gonorrhea to be present without symptoms in any gender. However, male-bodied individuals sometimes have the following symptoms:
• A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis
• More frequent urination
• A burning sensation when urinating
• Swollen or painful testicles (which is less common, but can happen)
If they keep the infection for very long, they can develop an abscess in the interior of the penis which is very painful.
Female-bodied individuals usually have mild symptoms, which can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Those who have gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.
• Painful or burning sensation when urinating
• More frequent urination
• Bleeding between periods
• Increased vaginal discharge
• Sharp pain in the lower abdomen
Rectal infections may either cause no symptoms or cause symptoms that may include:
• Anal itching and/or soreness
• Painful bowel movements
If the infection spreads to the bloodstream a rash, fever, or pain in the joints may occur. This can also cause arthritis, heart valve damage, or inflammation of the lining of the spinal cord or brain. These may be rare, but they’re serious conditions.
You should be examined by a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or your partner — this particularly goes for those with an unusual sore, burning sensation when you pee, smelly discharge, or bleeding between periods.
How will my doctor test for gonorrhea?
Typically, urine is a reliable indicator test for gonorrhea. However, if you’ve had oral and/or anal sex, swabs are used to collect samples from the throat or rectum. In some cases, a swab can be used to collect a sample from a penile urethra (urine canal) or a cervix (the opening to the womb).
Sometimes, they’ll diagnose through a sample of penile or vaginal discharge. The sample will be smeared on a glass slide. A stain is added, then the slide is put under a microscope. If the cells react to the stain, the specimen is probably gonorrhea. This method is quick and easy, though it is not 100% accurate.