Minute Memo: Gonorrhea

WHAT IS GONORRHEA?

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is transmitted through semen, vaginal fluids, and rectal fluids.

COMMON SYMPTOMS

Symptoms are usually mild or unnoticeable, especially in women. Symptoms in women are often mistaken for a mild vaginal infection or bladder infection. If symptoms do occur, they usually show up 2-7 days after contact and can manifest as the following:

Women:

  • A change in vaginal fluid
  • Change in periods, including more painful periods
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain in the lower stomach

Men:

  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Unusual fluid from the penis
  • Itchy feeling inside the penis
  • Pain and/or swelling in the testicles

If treated early, there are usually no complications. However, if left untreated serious complications such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, an infection that can cause infertility, problems getting pregnant, ectopic pregnancies, or ongoing pelvic pain, and Epididymitis, an infection of the testicles that can make it difficult to get a person pregnant, can occur.

TESTING AND TREATMENT

Most results are accurate 7 days after exposure. The treatment includes antibiotic pills. It is important to take the medications exactly as prescribed and take ALL the pills, even if you start to feel better. You should not have vaginal, oral, or anal sex for 7 days after you or your partner start the antibiotics.

You will be asked about who you have had sex with in the past two months. This is because gonorrhea is a reportable infection. Anyone you have had sex will need to be tested and treated. Partners are almost always given medication whether they have symptoms or not.

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