Gonorrhoea is only one of numerous sexually transmitted diseases. It is caused by infection with the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus which is present in the semen and vaginal fluid of the infected people. This infectious disease can cause unpleasant symptoms and serious complications.
Gonorrhoea, also known as the clap, is spread through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, sharing sex toys or from a pregnant woman to her baby. Gonorrhoea may not cause any symptoms at all. However, if symptoms in men are present they include white, yellow or green discharge from the tip of the penis and painful sensation when urinating. Inflammation of the foreskin and swelling and tenderness in the testicles may also occur. Women affected by gonorrhoea may experience watery, yellow or green discharge, painful urination and vaginal bleeding between periods. Tenderness or pain in the lower abdomen may be present as well although rarely.
Gonorrhoeal infection is not as common in the UK as other sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia, genital warts or genital herpes but the number of new cases of gonorrhea in 2008 was over 16,500. Individuals aged between 16 and 24 are most frequently infected. Nevertheless, any sexually active person can catch gonorrhoea. Those who frequently change partners or do not use condoms when having sexual intercourse are particularly at risk of contracting gonorrhoea.
Complications of Gonorrhoea
If left untreated, gonorrhoea can lead to serious health problems. Also, complications of gonorrhoea are more likely to occur in people who have been infected more than once.
Without prompt and adequate treatment gonorrheal infection may spread to other parts of the body. In women, it may spread to other reproductive organs and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This disease can result in serious problems like permanent pelvic pain, inflammation of the fallopian tubes, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. In men, the infection may also impair fertility and it can result in painful infection in the testicles and prostate.
Sometimes, untreated gonorrhea may spread through the bloodstream and cause inflammation of joints and tendons, skin rash and life-threatening inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the heart.
Prevention of Gonorrhoea
One can avoid getting infected with gonorrhea or any other sexually transmitted infection by using male or female condoms each time he or she has either vaginal or anal sex. Condoms are also necessary when a person engages in oral sex. Sex toys should not be shared with others. Finally, it would be the best to be in a mutually monogamous relationship.