Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterium that causes genital infections and other infections in humans. Gonorrhea is primarily spread by sexual contact, including sexual intercourse, oral sex and anal sex. A newborn baby can also become infected during the birth process if his/her mother is infected. Symptoms of Gonorrhea vary depending on the part of the body that is infected and usually begins within a week of exposure. A genital infection typically causes discharge (increased fluid) from the vagina (or urethra) and may cause pain with urination. In women, abnormal vaginal bleeding ("spotting") is common, while in men, pain and swelling around the testicles (epididymitis) may occur.When a woman has vaginal intercourse with an infected man, the infection usually begins in the woman’s cervix. The infection may remain in the area of the cervix for some time, or may spread to the uterus (endometritis) and fallopian tubes (salpingitis). When this spread occurs, the condition is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID may cause few symptoms and go unrecognized, or PID may be a severe, life-threatening infection. Common symptoms of PID include pelvic and abdominal pain, fever and abnormal vaginal bleeding. When abdominal tenderness is present, PID may be confused with other severe abdominal conditions, i.e., acute appendicitis or ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. Oral and rectal infections also occur and produce irritation, pain, discharge and other symptoms in the affected area. Some individuals with oral or rectal infections may not experience symptoms and may not be aware of their infection. Usually, people with signs or symptoms of a gonorrheal infection will seek medical attention and be evaluated by a clinician. Samples of body fluids will be examined and tested to determine the presence of gonorrhea organisms. Infection can also occur without symptoms. In fact, between 25-80 percent of infected women and a smaller percentage of men have no symptoms.3,4

Uncomplicated gonorrhea is treated with oral or injectable antibiotics. After treatment, infected individuals should be re-examined and tested to ensure that they have been cured. If a female develops PID, hospitalization and treatment with intravenous (IV) antibiotics may be required.5Treatment of infected pregnant women prevents transmission of infection to the newborn. Additionally, newborn infants routinely receive antibiotic eye medication to prevent eye infections caused by gonorrhea.6 Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is the most common complication of gonorrhea in women, occurring in 10-20 percent of infected females.7 Among US women who seek medical assistance to become pregnant, one in four are infertile because of scarring caused by PID.8 Disseminated gonorrheal infection (gonorrhea infection that spreads throughout the body), occurs in about 1 percent of patients with untreated gonorrhea. The most severe complications of disseminated infection are endocarditis, which can destroy the valves of the heart, and meningitis.9 Gonorrhea causes problems for pregnant women. Women who are infected are at increased risk of spontaneous abortion, premature rupture of membranes and preterm birth. Gonorrhea can also infect the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus.

Condoms, when used consistently and correctly, reduce the risk of acquiring gonorrhea. Sexually active individuals, especially those at high risk for contracting gonorrhea, should be screened and treated for gonorrhea each time they change sexual partners to prevent long-term complications and avoid spreading the infection to others. If you have already been sexually active outside a lifelong mutually faithful relationship (as in marriage), talk to your healthcare provider about getting you and your partner tested for STDs. Abstinence from sexual activity--including oral sex--or lifetime faithfulness to one uninfected partner is the only certain way to avoid being infected sexually. Read more at http://www.cdc.gov/std/Gonorrhea/STDFact-gonorrhea...

1. American Social Health Association. Sexually Transmitted Diseases in America: How Many Cases and at What Cost? Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation; 1998. 2. Hook EW, Handsfield HH. Gonococcal infections in the adult. In: Holmes KK, Mardh PA, Sparling PF, et al., eds. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 3rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, Co; 1999:811-831. 3. Ibid. 4. Sherrard J, Barlow D. Gonorrhoea in men: Clinical and diagnostic aspects. Genitourin Med. 1996;72:422-426. 5. Sweet RL. Pelvic inflammatory disease: Treatment. In: Mead PB, Hager WD, Faro S, eds. Protocols for Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Science, Inc.; 2000:400-405. 6. Dinsmoor MJ. Ophthalmia neonatorum. In: Mead PB, Hager WD, Faro S, eds. Protocols for Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Science, Inc.; 2000:93-98. 7. Hook EW, Handsfield HH. Gonococcal infections in the adult. In: Holmes KK, Mardh PA, Sparling PF, et al., eds. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 3rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, Co; 1999:811-831. 8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Society for Reproductive Medicine. 1997 Assisted Reproductive Technology Success Rates: National Summary and Fertility Clinic Reports. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1999:41. 9. Hook EW, Handsfield HH. Gonococcal infections in the adult. In: Holmes KK, Mardh PA, Sparling PF, et al., eds. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 3rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, Co; 1999:811-831.

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