Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium
. The bacteria are frequently passed during sexual intercourse with an infected person. The transmission can take place during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The bacteria lives in moist, dark, and warm places. An infected woman is capable of transmitting the disease to her child during child birth. Gonorrhea cannot be contracted through inanimate objects.
Gonorrhea is prevalent among young adults who experience many sexual partners and is the second most common STD.
Symptoms & Signa
The incubation period of gonorrhea is 2 to 10 days. Usually in men the symptoms include a urethral discharge and painful urination. Women may be symptomless, but about 40% of women experience some vaginal discharge or a burning sensation upon urination.
Gonococcal proctitis (inflammation of the rectum and anus) is an infection acquired through anal sex. The symptoms are pain and discharge in about 10` of infected persons. Gonococcal pharyngitis results from experiencing oral sex with an infected person. The symptoms include a sore throat but then again, most people have no symptoms. An infected infant exposed by an infected mother during childbirth may acquire gonococcal ophthalmia (a severe inflammation of the eyes).
Untreated gonorrhea may spread to other parts of the body, causing infertility in both males and females. Once the bacteria enter the bloodstream they can cause pain and swelling of the joints; and also septicemia (blood poisoning), which causes fever and malaise. It can even spread to the brain and heart, and cause death.
A laboratory test is necessary in order to confirm a diagnosis of gonorrhea.
Treatment is usually with antibiotics. Tests are also taken after the treatment to ensure that the infection has been cured. Sexual partners must be informed, because they may not have any symptoms to suggest that they need care.