What are the symptoms of gonorrhoea?
For women, early symptoms include bleeding brought on by vaginal intercourse, burning/painful urination and a yellow or bloody vaginal discharge. For men, early symptoms include a discharge of pus from the penis known as urethritis, pain in the penis and a burning sensation when urinating. Symptoms of rectal infection include discharge, itching and painful bowel movements with blood on the faeces. Throat infections can feel similar to tonsilitis, i.e. sore throat and pain when swallowing.
The symptoms usually appear 2 to 10 days after sexual contact with an infected partner. The early symptoms can be mild and most women and some men can be infected without showing any symptoms.
What will happen if I don’t get treated?
The natural history of gonorrhoea is spontaneous resolution after weeks or months of unpleasant symptoms, during which time transmission of the organism is likely. In some individuals untreated gonorrhoea can lead to severe complications. Women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection that spreads from the vagina and cervix to the uterus and fallopian tubes. PID can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes, which can lead to or sterility. The symptoms of PID include heavier periods with more cramps, abnormal mucus discharges, pain in the lower abdomen, weakness, fever, vomiting and pain during intercourse. If a woman has the infection during pregnancy the organism can be transmitted to their baby during birth.
Other long-term complications can include . In men, other complications such as prostatitis, epididymitis and urethral structure can occur. The infection can lead to an of the testicles that can result in sterility. Disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) is caused by the organism spreading through the bloodstream and manifesting as arthritis of the joints.
How is gonorrhoea transmitted?
It is generally transmitted through mucus membranes via sexual contact (oral, genital or anal) with an infected partner. Transmission is reduced with the use of condoms. An infected mother can spread the bacteria to her baby during childbirth. This presents as conjunctivitis which if not treated can cause blindness.
How is it treated?
Gonorrhoea can be treated with a course of antibiotics.
How can it be prevented?