Patient Information: Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Questions and Answers About Gonorrhea
What is Gonorrhea?
a sexually transmitted bacteria that infects men, women and infants.
An estimated 1 million cases of gonorrhea are reported each year
while at least that same number go unreported.
What are the Symptoms
of a Gonorrhea Infection?
gonorrhea usually appear two days to three weeks after a person
has been exposed to someone with the infection. Some men and women
will not have symptoms at all until the disease has caused severe
|Painful burning sensation with urination
|Milky white to yellow discharge from the
|Painful, burning sensation with urination
|Redness and swelling around the opening
of the penis
|Lower abdominal pain and fever
|Pain and swelling in the testicles
How are Gonorrhea Infections
are most often spread during vaginal, oral or anal sexual contact.
In addition, babies can get gonorrhea during birth if the mother
has this infection.
How Do I Know if I
have a Gonorrhea Infection?
In many cases,
it is very difficult to detect the symptoms of gonorrhea. People
may be unaware that they have an infection and can carry the disease
for long periods without knowing it. Other people have no idea
they might have gonorrhea infection until a partner(s) is diagnosed
and treated. Thus, the only sure way to know is to be tested.
Can Gonorrhea Infections
Yes. Even if
symptoms are not present, gonorrhea infections can create serious
health problems. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause:
|Permanent damage to the reproductive organs, causing chronic pain and infertility (difficulty in getting pregnant).
|Sterility (unable to have children).
|Ectopic or tubal pregnancy - A serious condition which can cause maternal death.
|Arthritis (painful swelling in joints)
How Are Gonorrhea Infections
made by culturing material from the cervix in women and the penis
in men. A cotton swab is used to collect these samples that are
sent to a laboratory for testing. Test results take about three
days to obtain. This test is usually not painful and can be done
even when there are no symptoms.
How are Gonorrhea Infections
can be serious if left untreated, it can be cured with antibiotics.
Treatment consists of antibiotics (usually penicillin, erythromycin
or tetracycline) prescribed to fight the infection. It is important
to complete all the medication as directed to ensure successful
treatment. Unfortunately antibiotic treatment cannot reverse complications
already caused by infection.
How can I Prevent a
for preventing gonorrhea infections are the same as for preventing
- The best defense against
gonorrhea is not having sex with anyone (abstinence) or having
sex only with one non-infected partner who has sex only with you.
- Use protection during
sexual activity. Condoms (rubbers), used properly from start to
finish for each sexual contact, are the best protection. Spermicidal
foams and jellies, and diaphragms are less reliable and should
be used along with condoms, not in place of them.
- If you suspect that
you have been exposed to gonorrhea, see a doctor right away. Be
sure your partner is treated also. Avoiding sexual activity until
the gonorrhea infection is gone is very important. Otherwise,
partners can infect and reinfect each other. Also, partner(s)
of those with gonorrhea should be tested and treated promptly
to prevent further spread of the disease.
A follow-up appointment
will be scheduled three to six weeks after antibiotics are completed
for another gonorrhea culture. It is important to reculture for
gonorrhea to ensure proper and complete treatment.