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Gonorrhea, a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease (STD)
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Gonorrhea

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WOMEN'S HEALTH

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

MEN'S HEALTH

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Gonorrhea, a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Gonorrhea, sometimes referred to as the clap, often is characterized by thick discharges from your penis or vagina. But many people experience no symptoms.

The bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, also referred to as gonococcus, causes gonorrhea. The disease spreads through unprotected sexual contact, heterosexual or homosexual, with an infected partner. The more sexual partners you have, the greater your risk. An infected woman also can pass gonorrhea to her newborn infant during delivery. Casual contact doesn't spread the disease.

The incidence of gonorrhea is higher in adult women than in adult men and much higher in girls ages 10 to 14 than in boys of the same age.

 

Complications

Not receiving adequate treatment for gonorrhea may lead to complications. These may include:

  •  Inflammation of the testicles. In men, inflammation of the testicles (epididymitis) is an acute condition treatable with antibiotics and pain relievers. If untreated, it may lead to infertility.

  •  Pelvic inflammatory disease. In women, the bacteria can spread into the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which may result in scarring of the tubes, greater risk of ectopic pregnancy and infertility. PID may lead to abdominal pain, backache, irregular menstrual periods, pain during intercourse and foul-smelling vaginal discharge. PID is a serious infection that requires immediate treatment by a doctor. Between 10 percent and 40 percent of women infected with gonorrhea develop PID.

  • Anorectal gonorrhea. In both sexes, anorectal gonorrhea may result from anal intercourse with an infected person or from the infection spreading from the genital area. It may cause some discomfort in and discharge from the anal area, but in many cases no signs or symptoms are present.

  • Irritation of your throat and tonsils. Oral sex can lead to pharyngeal gonorrhea with a sore throat, pain on swallowing and redness of your throat and tonsils.

  • Eye inflammation. If the infection spreads to your eye by touching, gonorrhea can cause a red, inflamed eye (conjunctivitis). In babies who contract gonorrhea during childbirth, gonorrheal eye infections can lead to blindness.

  • Widespread infection in your body. The bacterium that causes gonorrhea can also spread through the bloodstream to cause infection in other parts of your body. Fever, rash, joint pain, swelling and stiffness are possible results.

Gonorrhea > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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Last Modified : 03/15/08 12:54 AM