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Definition of Gonorrhoea

Also known as the 'clap' or 'drip', gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae that affects both men and women equally where the bacteria grows and multiplies easily in the warm and moist mucous membranes of the body like the reproductive tract of the female body (cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes) and the urethra in both men and women; and also, in the mouth, the throat and the anus.

Symptoms of Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a tricky disease. Some people with this disease don't have symptoms thereby making it difficult to assess when to intervene for treatment. If symptoms do show up, they do so after a couple days to ten days of exposure, sometimes even over 30 days.

In women, the symptoms are so mild that often they go unnoticed and they mistake the discharge for a yeast infection. The following are the crucial symptoms -

  • Vaginal discharge which is greenish yellow or whitish in colour
  • Pelvic or lower abdominal pain
  • Burning sensation when passing urine
  • Conjunctivitis or red and itchy eyes
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Spotting after intercourse
  • Vulvitis which is swelling of the vulva
  • Burning in the throat due to oral sex
  • Swollen glands in the throat due to oral sex

In men, the symptoms take time to appear - usually after 5-7 days after infection. Some of the symptoms are the following -

  • Penis discharge which is greenish yellow or whitish in colour
  • Burning sensation while passing urine
  • Swollen and painful testicles
  • Burning sensation in the throat due to oral sex
  • Swollen glands in the throat due to oral sex

Risks of Gonorrhoea

The common risk factors are

  • Rampant and unsafe sex without condoms and protection
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexual contact with infected partner
  • Infected pregnant mother can pass infection to the unborn thereby raising complications that range from premature delivery, spontaneous abortion to blindness, joint infection or a fatal blood infection in the baby

Diagnosis of Gonorrhoea

Diagnosis of gonorrhoea is a very long-drawn process. The doctor will run a battery of tests from taking samples for laboratory analysis of urine, fluid from the urethra in men, cervix in women, swabs from the throat and the anus to check if the infection is present there as well. Also, one may be tested for Chlamydia, another sexually transmitted infection that often occurs together with gonorrhoea.

Treatment of Gonorrhoea

If left untreated, gonorrhoea can cause serious and permanent problems from pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, risks of ectopic pregnancy in women to epididymo-orchitis and problems with the prostate gland bruising the urethra and making urination painful and difficult in men. Gonorrhoea also affects the blood and the joints and exposes one to HIV that causes AIDS.

The doctor will prescribe oral medicines and injectable antibiotics to the patient and his/her partner to kill the infection and prevent re-infection and spread of the disease. The patient should complete the full course of antibiotics even if he/she feels better besides sexual abstinence until the doctor permits and practice of safe sex with condoms and protection.

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