Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that affects dark, warm and moist places like the inside of the vagina, the anus, the mouth and the scrotum, as well as the urinary tract.
In women, the infection is usually found around cervix, although it can spread to other organs, including ovaries and fallopian tubes. This can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause sterility, among other serious complications.
In men, gonorrhea causes urethritis and penile discharge. Gonorrhea can spread very easily to the mouth, through oral sex or by touching the genitals and then the mouth. In addition, gonorrhea can spread to the rectal area and even to the eyes.
As for the symptoms, it takes from two to ten days after the infection for the symptoms to appear, and in some cases it even takes months. In the beginning, the symptoms are usually very mild. In women, the initial symptoms include burning while urinating and a yellowish vaginal discharge. In advanced stages, the symptoms include abdominal pain, bleeding between periods, nausea and fever.
In men, the symptoms include burning sensation while urinating and a yellowish discharge from the penis.
Prevention of gonorrhea
It is possible to take measures in order to prevent contracting gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as to reduce the risk of transmitting it to the sexual partner.
Practice of safe sex is the most common and the most effective means of prevention. It includes avoiding having sex with multiple partners and to talk to sexual partners about their medical history and about STDs in general. Partners should be encouraged to be frank about their health.
Of course, safe sex means using condoms during sexual intercourse, for all types of sex, including anal and oral. Condoms serve as protection for STDs as well as from undesired pregnancy. They should be placed before sexual intercourse and afterwards discarded. The general recommendation is that everyone should use condoms until they and their partners are tested for sexually transmitted diseases. This also goes for women who use oral contraceptives, because the pill cannot protect them from STDs.
People who are already diagnosed with gonorrhea should restrain from sexual activity until they are cured. People who have had more than one partner over the course of one year, or whose partner has had more than one sexual partner, are advised to see a doctor and talk to him or her about tests and screening for STDs, including gonorrhea.