The symptoms differ from each other in men and women. In women, the primarily affected area is cervix. However, if not treated properly, this often spreads to the uterus and the fallopian tubes. It may also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus of the affected person. The condition may cause a sore throat, a pus-filled growth in the tonsil at the back of the throat, and difficulty in swallowing. Symptoms depend on the site where the bacteria was introduced, the duration of infection, and whether the infection is localized or has spread.
The symptoms in males include a pus-like discharge from the urethra with a burning sensation during urination, and increase in the frequency of urination. Vaginal discharge, difficulty in urination, excessive menstrual bleeding, or bleeding after sexual intercourse are the initial symptoms in women. In approximately 15% of females with infection inside the mouth of the uterus, the infection extend into the fallopian tubes causing what is known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
If left untreated, gonorrhea may lead to serious and permanent health problems, and long-term organ damage in both men and women. In women, untreated gonorrhea results in serious infection in the reproductive tract. It may cause complicated pregnancy which might be life threatening to the mother as well as the child. This condition may lead to various other long-term, serious diseases if it is not taken care off at the initial stage. Some of them are
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) ~ This is perhaps the most serious complication in women infected with gonorrhea. PID may seriously damage the fallopian tube in a woman, thereby resulting in complicated pregnancy. Due to scarring of the fallopian tube the embryo is not able to pass into the uterus. The causes implantation of the embryo in the fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy). This is a serious health complication which may be fatal for the mother.
- Epididymitis ~ The coiled tube in the rear part of the testicles called epididymis gets inflamed in this condition. This condition affecting the testicles may lead to infertility.
- HIV/AIDS ~ Since the immunity level gets lowered, people infected with gonorrhea may easily contract HIV. Apart from this, the person may transmit the virus to someone else more readily.
- Arthritis, Meningitis, and Endocarditis ~ The bacterium blocks the mucous membrane in different parts of the body, this leads to inflammation of joints (arthritis), inflammation in the brain (meningitis), and infection of the heart (endocarditis).
- Infant blindness ~ Pregnant females may transmit this infection to their babies during childbirth. This may cause blindness and sores on the scalp, and infections.
There are many risk factors for gonorrhea. Primary factors are:
- Indulging in unsafe sex
- Having sex with more than one person
- Being in a sexual relationship with someone who has multiple sexual partners
Using condoms during sexual intercourse may help prevent this condition. The most important factor is to reduce the number of sex-partners.
Detection and Treatment
The most reliable method to detect this infection is, laboratory culture testing. Special tests must be performed in order to detect the bacterial organism responsible for the disease. Different samples of body discharge like the urethral discharge (where you pass urine), cervical discharge (opening of the womb), rectal discharge, or the throat swabs may be taken and incubated in the laboratory to check the presence of this bacterium. Normally, it takes about two days for the infection to be detected.
There are several antibiotics that can successfully cure gonorrhea in adults and adolescents. Antibiotic treatment varies depending upon the site of infection. This would not repair whatever damage has been done permanently, but prevent further infection. Early detection and immediate medication are the only ways to prevent serious and permanent damage. Gonorrhea does not require a follow-up after the treatment, but patients are advised to stay away from sex during that time.