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Identifying and Treating Gonorrhea

Almost 400,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported in the U.S. in 2015, making it the second-most common sexually transmitted disease (STD), especially among men and women ages 15 to 24.

While gonorrhea is a common STD that is easily treated once identified, that doesn’t mean it can’t have long-term harmful effects if it goes undetected or ignored. Identifying and treating gonorrhea is essential to your long-term health.

gonorrhea

What Is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is caused by a strain of bacteria that grows in the mucus membranes and multiplies quickly. In women, it can thrive in the uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix. In both men and women, it can grow in the urethra, mouth, throat and anus.

Do You Have These Symptoms?

Because gonorrhea symptoms are either nonexistent or commonly associated with other problems, like a yeast infection, sufferers sometimes do not visit a doctor to get help right away.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

  • Green, yellow or white vaginal discharge
  • Painful, burning urination
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Lower abdominal pain

Symptoms may be extremely mild and may not show up for up to 30 days after infection, although typically symptoms appear between two to 10 days afterward.

Treatment Is Necessary

In women, untreated gonorrhea is serious. It can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can have serious long-term health consequences. It can cause scar tissue to form that blocks the passage of an egg through the fallopian tubes, compromising your ability to get pregnant. It may also increase the chances of an ectopic pregnancy. Women may have constant lower abdominal pain for the rest of their lives.

If you are pregnant while you are infected with gonorrhea, immediate treatment is extremely important. Otherwise, you may be at risk for premature delivery, and you could pass the disease on to your baby. This puts the baby at risk of a serious blood infection, joint infection and blindness.

How Is it Diagnosed?

Gonorrhea is diagnosed through a sample of urine or cervical fluid. You may also have your throat swabbed to see if the bacteria is present there. If you are diagnosed with gonorrhea, your doctor may treat you for chlamydia also, since it’s commonly transmitted along with gonorrhea.

Receiving Treatment

Your doctor will probably give you an oral antibiotic. Take the entire prescription as directed; do not stop taking it once you feel better. Share the diagnosis with your partner so they can receive treatment as well and limit the spread. Do not have sex again until you have completed your course of medication. In the future, practice safe sex by using latex condoms.

Rocky Mountain Women’s Health Center will help you identify and treat your STD symptoms, including gonorrhea. Contact us today if you show symptoms, so you can get the care you need.

 

Sean Jerig on sablinkedin
Sean Jerig
OB/GYN at Davis Hospital
Dr. Jerig is an OB/GYN at Rocky Mountain Women's Health Centers in Layton, Utah. His areas of expertise include regular and high-risk pregnancies, infertility and pregnancy planning, menopause, uterine bleeding, and minimally invasive surgeries.

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