Learn about gonorrhea symptoms, testing and treatment

Gonorrhea is a fairly common sexually transmitted disease among young adults, and the overall rate seems to be on the rise. Be aware of risk factors and learn to detect gonorrhea symptoms in order to avoid the discomfort and complications that come with this infection.

Gonorrhea Symptoms

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through vaginal, oral or anal sexual contact. Both men and women can become infected, but women can contract the infection more easily than men, although many do not exhibit symptoms. Gonorrhea can infect the throat, mouth, genitals or anus depending on the nature of the sexual contact.

GonorrheaSource: cdc.gov

Oral gonorrhea cannot be transmitted through kissing—it requires oral contact with infected genitals, and typically affects the mouth and tongue. Most people do not experience symptoms, and it will likely go away without treatment. However, pharyngeal gonorrhea, or throat gonorrhea, can develop into serious infections like tonsillitis if left untreated. The only recognizable symptom of this type of gonorrheal infection is a very sore throat, so it is advisable to see your doctor if you suspect that there is a connection between your throat soreness and recent sexual contact.

For men and women, symptoms of genital gonorrhea bear much resemblance to symptoms of chlamydia: inflammation, a need to urinate often, itching and abnormal discharge may appear within 2 to 10 days after infection. If anal gonorrhea results in any symptoms at all, they will be the same for both genders—discharge, rectal bleeding and a burning pain. And like chlamydia, gonorrheal infection can cause female infertility by obstructing or scarring the fallopian tubes and uterus.

Gonorrhea and chlamydia share many patterns and symptoms, but they are caused by different bacteria and will need to be treated with different medication. Gonorrhea testing will allow a doctor to quickly determine the type of bacterial infection.

Gonorrhea Treatment

Gonorrhea has been treated in the past with antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, but the bacteria have recently begun to develop resistance to this class of antibiotics. The favored treatment is now cephalosporin antibiotics, which can be injected or taken in pill form. Since gonorrhea occurs along with chlamydia in 50 percent of cases, an antibiotic to treat chlamydia may also be prescribed.

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