Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) ,caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae a bacteria which infects the mucous membranes. The bacteria is often transmitted from one individual to another during sexual contact, including anal, oral or vaginal intercourse. However, babies can also be infected with this condition during childbirth if the mother is infected. In babies, the disease affects their eyes. Hethcote &Yorke (2014) report that some of the factors that may increase the risk of one getting the infection include age, new sex partner, history of gonorrhea infection, multiple sex partners, and co-infection with other sexually transmitted diseases.
The bacteria cannot survive outside human body for long therefore it cannot be transmitted by sharing baths and towel, cups, toilets and seats, kissing or hugging.
Once infected, one presents with urethral discharge while urinating. The infection is treatable therefore one should seek medical attention early after noticing the symptoms.
Presentation of Gonorrhea
Usually, the infection causes no symptoms. However, when they appear it affects multiple body parts, but it appears commonly in the genital tract. Men who have been diagnosed with gonorrhea pus-like discharge from the tip of the penis, painful urination, and swelling and pain in one testicle. In women, the infection causes increased vaginal discharge, dysuria, dyspanuria, pelvic or abdominal pain, and vaginal bleeding between periods such as after vaginal intercourse.
The infection can also infect other body parts such as the rectum where it causes anal itching, discharge of the pus-like substance from the rectum, strains during bowel movements, and bleeding. When it infects the eyes, it may cause light sensitivity, eye pain, and pus-like discharge from one or both eyes. Patients may also develop a sore throat or swollen lymph nodes in the neck if the infection spreads to the throat. It can also disseminate to the various joints causing septic arthritis whereby the affected joints become red, warm, swollen, and extremely painful during movements.
Treatment of Gonorrhea
Adults who have been diagnosed with gonorrhea are prescribed with antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that patients with uncomplicated gonorrhea should be given a ceftriaxone injection in combination two oral antibiotics, that is, either doxycycline or azithromycin. This is advisable because the drugs provide a wide range of activity which is required due to the emergence of strains of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae(Kerani et al. 2015).
Babies who are infected during childbirth are given two eye drops of erythromycin to prevent the spread of the infection. To avoid reinfection with gonorrhea, the patients are advised to abstain from unprotected sex for seven days after he/she has completed the treatment regimen and the symptoms have resolved.
The infection can cause some complications if it is untreated. For instance, it can cause infertility in women by spreading to the oviduct and the uterus cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which causes scarring of the fallopian tubes, increase in pregnancy complications as well as infertility. Infertility can also occur in men if the infection affects the epididymis. Most importantly, the gonorrhea infection predisposes a person to the risk of being infected with STIs such as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
The following steps should be taken to reduce the risk of gonorrhea infection. First, sexually active women should be encouraged to visit health centers annually for gonorrhea screening (Jackson, McNair & Coleman, 2015). Condoms should also be used if a person is having sex with a new sex partner. For those who have been diagnosed with the disease, they should encourage their partners to also go to a hospital for testing.
Gonorrhea has a good prognosis especially if antibiotic therapy is administered early enough. Usually, the infection clears within 2 to 4 weeks if the Neisseria gonorrhoeaeis susceptible to the antibiotics that have been administered. For individuals who have are immune-compromised such as patients with HIV, the infection may last for months and become more severe.
Hethcote, H. W., & Yorke, J. (2014). Gonorrhea transmission dynamics and control (Vol. 56). Springer.
Jackson, J. A., McNair, T. S., & Coleman, J. S. (2015). Over-screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea among urban women age≥ 25 years. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 212(1), 40-e1.
Kerani, R. P., Stenger, M. R., Weinstock, H., Bernstein, K. T., Reed, M., Schumacher, C., … & Golden, M. (2015). Gonorrhea treatment practices in the STD Surveillance Network, 2010–2012. Sexually transmitted diseases, 42(1), 6-12.
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