Gonorrhea treatment, symptoms and prevention
Gonorrhea, sometimes spelled "gonorrhoea," is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection. Informally, it is often referred to as "the clap." The infection is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that thrives in warm and moist areas. Thus, it can multiply quickly once it enters the reproductive areas of the body.
The bacteria can also infect and grow in other bodily regions, including the mouth and throat. Such cases are classified as oral gonorrhea and throat gonorrhea.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that 700,000 new gonorrhea cases occur in the United States on an annual basis. You can contract the bacteria that cause gonorrhea through contact with the penis, vagina or anus of an infected person. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhea transmission to take place. Oral gonorrhea and throat gonorrhea are particularly easily transmissible; you can become infected simply through kissing, though most cases are contracted through oral sex.
Both men and women can remain asymptomatic for extended periods of time, which often results in the unintentional and unknowing infection of subsequent sexual partners. However, when gonorrhea symptoms do appear, they usually manifest within two to five days of infection, though they can take as long as 30 days to appear.
In men, gonorrhea symptoms include swollen or painful testicles, a burning sensation during urination and white, yellow or green penile discharges. Women also experience painful urination and vaginal discharges, and they may also report bleeding not associated with the menstrual cycle.
Complications can be serious for both sexes. In men, the complications of gonorrhea can lead to infertility. Women can develop a painful condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Women with gonorrhea may also eventually become infertile, and the presence of the infection increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
While there are several classes of antibiotics that can kill the bacteria that cause gonorrhea, drug-resistant strains of the bacteria are popping up in increasing numbers. If your symptoms persist despite gonorrhea treatment, you should see your doctor immediately and abstain from sexual contact.
It is also important to keep in mind that while antibiotics can kill the gonorrhea bacteria, no treatments are available to reverse any damage those bacteria may do to your body while you're infected. Thus, it is very important to seek gonorrhea treatment at the first sign of infection to give yourself the best chance of preventing subsequent complications.
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