The cause of the infection called gonorrhea is Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that is transmitted through sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual contact. In men, infections usually affects the urethra first or, in homosexuals, the rectum. In women, the cervix, the urinary tube and the rectum can be infected (although the spread of the infection to that part of the body does not have to be the result of an anal sex). In the case of oral sexual contact, gonorrhea may also affect the throat.
In men, symptoms occur 7 to 14 days after the infection. The first symptom is a slight feeling of discomfort when urinating. At the same time, a pus-like discharge from the penis may occur. If the disease is not treated, the discharge becomes thicker and abundant.
In women, gonorrhea might not always be accompanied by symptoms. In some cases, the discharge from the vagina changes and increases; if the infection has affected the rectum, it may feel moist and there may be some mucus in the stool. Urinary symptoms are not common. If the gonorrhea has affected the throat, inflammation occurs.
Approximately one in every 1000 people visits medical institutions every year because of gonorrhea. Disease is more common in people with more sexual partners, and two thirds of the patients are men.
In a very small number of cases (more often in women than in men) the infection spreads from the genital area and causes a special form of arthritis as well as stains on the skin. In women, the disease may spread to nearby organs such as the uterus and the oviduct. In rare cases, gonorrhea may cause urethral stricture in men.
What to do?
As soon as you suspect you may have gonorrhea, go to a doctor or a medical institution (a clinic, etc.) specialized in sexually transmitted diseases. Refrain from any sexual intercourse until the disease is cured.
Gonorrhea is diagnosed with laboratory examinations of exclusion (secretion) samples taken from the infected site. If the urethra is infected, the samples are taken with a small wire loop; the procedure causes only a slight discomfort. In women, the samples are taken from the cervix, urethra and rectum.
Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics – in the form of tablets, coated tablets or, rarely, injections. Some doctors will advise their patients to refrain from alcohol during the treatment.