What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD)
What causes gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in mucous membranes of the body. Gonorrhea bacteria can grow in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women, and in the urethra (urine canal) in women and men. The bacteria can also grow in the mouth, throat, and anus.
How do people get gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is spread through sexual contact (vaginal, oral, or anal). This includes penis-to-vagina, penis-to-mouth, penis to anus, mouth-to-vagina, and mouth-to-anus contact. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhea to be transmitted or acquired. Gonorrhea can also be spread from mother to child during birth.
Gonorrhea infection can spread to other unlikely parts of the body. For example, a person can get an eye infection after touching infected genitals and then the eyes. Individuals who have had gonorrhea and received treatment may get infected again if they have sexual contact with persons infected with gonorrhea.
What are the signs and symptoms of gonorrhea?
When initially infected, the majority of men have some signs or symptoms. Symptoms and signs include a burning sensation when urinating and a yellowish white dischage from the penis. Sometimes men with gonorrhea get painful or swollen testicles. In women, the early symptoms of gonorrhea are often mild, and many women who are infected have no symptoms of infection. Even when a woman has symptons, they can be so non-specific as to be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. The initial symptoms and signs in women include a painful or burning sensation when urinating and a vaginal discharge that is yellow or occasionally bloody. Women with no or mild gonorrhea symptoms are still at risk of developing serious complications from the infection.Untreated gonorrhea in women can develop into pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Please see below for more about the complications of gonorrhea.
Symptoms of rectal infection include discharge, and itching, soreness, bleeding, and sometimes painful bowel movements. Infections in the throat cause few symptoms.
When do symptoms appear?
In males, symptoms usually appear 2 to 5 days after infection, but it can take as long as 30 days for symptoms to begin. Regardless of symptoms, once a person is infected with gonorrhea, he or she can spread the infection to others if condoms or other protective barriers are not used during sex.
Who is at risk for gonorrhea?
Any sexually active person can be infected with gonorrhea.
How can gonorrhea be prevented?
Use latex condoms correctly every time you have sex
Persons who choose to engage in sexual behaviors that can place them at risk for STDs should use latex condoms every time they have sex. A condom put on the penis before starting sex and worn until the penis is withdrawn can help protect both the male and the female partner from gonorrhea. When a male condom cannot be used appropriately, sex partners should consider using a female condom.
Condoms do not provide complete protection from all STDs. Sores and lesions of other STDs on infected men and women may be present in areas not covered by the condom, resulting in transmission of infection to another person.
Limit the number of sex partners, and do not go back and forth between partners. Practice sexual abstinence, or limit sexual contact to one uninfected partner. If you think you are infected, avoid sexual contact and see a health care provider immediately.
Any genital symptoms such as discharge or burning during urination or unusual sore or rash should be a signal to stop having sex and to consult a health care provider immediately. If you are told you have gonorrhea or any other STD and receive treatment, you should notify all of your recent sex partners so that they can see a health care provider and be treated. This will reduce the risk that your partners will develop serious complications from gonorrhea and will reduce your own risk of becoming reinfected.
Gonorrhea in Oregon