Gonorrhea

Overview

Gonorrhea is a very common sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria. It is estimated that more than three quarters of a million people are infected in the United States each year. Symptoms are often few and mild, so it is important to know the risks and warning signs of Gonorrhea. This disease most commonly affects the reproductive organs, however it can also infect the rectum, the eyes, the throat and the joints. It should be noted that the increased risk of contracting HIV has been linked to Gonorrhea. Untreated infections can lead to infertility in both men and women and the spread of the disease to other parts of the body, so it is important to test for and treat Gonorrhea infections early. When detected early, Gonorrhea can be treated quite successfully without causing further damage.

Symptoms and diagnosis

All persons who are sexually active should be routinely tested for Gonorrhea, even when no symptoms are present. A urine test is most commonly used to test for the presence of Gonorrhea in the reproductive organs. If other sites are suspected to be infected, however, a swab may be performed to test for the bacterium. Symptoms of the disease vary by gender. For men, the most common symptoms of infection of the reproductive region include painful urination, pain and swelling in one or both testicles and pus-like discharge from the penis. For women, painful urination, abdominal or pelvic pain, an increase in vaginal discharge and irregular bleeding between periods may signal the presence of Gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can also infect other parts of the body causing a different set of symptoms. When Gonorrhea is present in the rectum, symptoms include itching, bleeding and straining during bowel movements and pus like discharge. The eyes, most commonly infected during childbirth to an infected mother, may present symptoms such as pain, light sensitivity and discharge. Symptoms of a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes can indicate infection of the throat and swollen, warm, red or painful joints may be present with Gonorrhea.

Causes

Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the bacteria responsible for causing Gonorrhea. Most commonly, Gonorrhea is contracted during sexual contact with an infected partner. Having multiple sexual partners increases the risk of contracting the disease. Gonorrhea can also be passed from an infected mother to her child during childbirth, resulting in most of the cases of Gonorrhea where infection is present in the eyes.  Continue reading for Prevention information . . .

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