Gonorrhea is relatively easy to treat, however if untreated if can lead to serious health problems. The bacteria, known as “Neisseria Gonorrhoeae” can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, anal sex and oral sex. Pregnant women suffering from the infection can also pass it on to their child during child birth. However, around 50% of all women sufferers may not experience any symptoms and therefore be unaware of the problem. In men 10 to 20 % suffer no symptoms. In these instances, it is more often because the sufferers have not contracted the illness from the genital region.

What are the symptoms?

Gonorrhoea can infect the cervix, urethra, rectum, mouth and throat. Therefore, a number of symptoms exist. Women may experience an increase in the amount of their vaginal discharge while periods can be much heavier and bleeding may continue between them. In addition to this, women may experience pain in their lower abdomen and an uncomfortable burning sensation when passing urine. Men will experience a similarly intense pain when urinating, as well as some green, white or yellow discharge which emanates from the urethra. In instances of rectal infection, sufferers can expect to feel pain, an uncomfortable itching sensation and some bloody puss like discharge from the anus. In cases of oral infection, some common throat and glandular disorders may occur as well as vision becoming impaired.

What can Gonorrhoea do?

If untreated, in women, the infection can cause to pelvic inflammatory disease. In instances of this, the fallopian tubes have been known to narrow or close, leading to infertility and in some instances ectopic pregnancy whereby the egg develops in the tubes which can lead to rupture and internal bleeding or pain. The sex organs of the female can also become highly inflamed causing high temperature, feverish symptoms and some pain. Males suffer from painful erections as well as infections in the testicles and prostate which can then lead to infertility. In some serious instances, males can suffer from an inflammation of the epididymis. Sufferers experience a high temperature, soreness, some swelling, stomach pains and irritated skin in the scrotal region. The urinary tract may also become irritated causing significant pain. In both men and women, skin and joint inflammation ca occur. In some extreme cases the heart can become inflamed while a form of liver disease or cerebrospinal meningitis can take hold. If the infection spreads to the veins, sufferers can experience high temperatures, aching joints, shivers and skin disorders. Any children delivered from a mother with the infection are at risk to impaired vision due to irritation of the eyes.

How is it diagnosed?

A doctor begins with a thorough examination of the body and particularly the infected area. A smear test is taken from the infected region. Therefore a smear can be taken from the urethra, the neck of the uterus, the throat or rectum. Once a smear has been taken from the chosen region, it is examined under a microscope in order to identify the Neisseria Gonorrhoeae bacteria.

How can I treat this?

The infection can be treated through a simple course of antibiotics. The doctor will decide on a course of one of two types of anti biotic. The first is Ciprofloxacin or Ciproxin a quinolone antibiotic, which comes in a tablet form that must be swallowed whole. It works by entering the bacteria’s cells and stopping a bacterial enzyme called DNA-gyrase from working. Without this enzyme the bacteria is unable to repair and reproduce itself and instead dies. The other antibiotic option is called Ofloxacin or Tarivid which is also a quinolone antibiotic. It works in much the same way as Ciproxin by preventing the DNA-gyrase enzyme from working and thus killing the bacteria present. A doctor will review your medical history before prescribing this course as a number of disorders can rule you out of use of either. Users of either may experience nausea, skin disorders, headaches, pains and some diarrhoea which are relatively common. However, in rare cases hallucinations, increased blood sugar levels, convulsions, liver or kidney problems, blood cell disorders, depression and some disruption of the senses and tendons can occur, though it must be stressed that these problems are extremely rare. Gonorrhoea can also be treated with one dose of antibiotics like ceftriaxone, cefiximine or spectinomycin. All antibiotics are either given orally as a pill or through an injection. If successful any pain or discharge you experience when urinating should cease within three days. Pain or discharge felt in your anus should also stop within three days. Bleeding between periods, or particularly heavy bleeds, should become improve d by the time of the next period. Pain in the pelvic region and your testicles should begin to improve and should have cleared within two weeks.

Where can I go?

A doctor or Genito-Urinary Medicine Clinic should be consulted in an instance of gonorrhoea. Once initial treatment is complete a follow up appointment will be required round seventy two hours after, to check that the procedure has been successful. Until this is confirmed, all sexual contact should be avoided.

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