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Gonorrhea: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Sep 06, 2023

Gonorrhea: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

The term "Gonorrhea" refers to a sexually transmitted Disease(STD), sometimes known as an STI. A bacterium that affects both sexes causes gonorrhea. Usually, gonorrhea affects the throat, rectum, or urethra. Gonorrhoea also infects the cervix in females.

Gonorrhea is typically acquired by anal, oral, or vaginal sex. However, children of infected mothers can get the illness after giving birth. In babies, gonorrhea most usually results in eye impairment.

Avoiding sexual activity using a condom when you engage in sexual activity, and sustaining a mutually monogamous relationship are the strongest defenses against STIs.

Causes of Gonorrhea

Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the bacteria that causes gonorrhea. The most frequent way for gonorrhea germs to spread from one person to another is via sexual contact, including oral, anal, or vaginal sex.

Symptoms Of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea infections may have no symptoms. Although symptoms can appear everywhere in your body, the vaginal tract is where they most usually appear.

Men who have gonorrhea may have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pus-like discharge emerging from the tip of the penis 
  • Painful urination
  • One testicle may be painful or enlarged.

The following symptoms and indicators could be present in females with gonorrhea:

  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Painful urination
  • Bleeding after intercourse, or in between menstrual cycles, from the cervix
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain

Gonorrhea at different body locations

Additionally, gonorrhea can impact the following bodily regions:

  • Eyes. Gonorrhea that affects the eyes can cause eye pain, sensitivity to light, and pus-like discharge from one or both eyes.
  • Throat. A throat infection may show symptoms including a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Joints. A bacterial infection of one or more joints results in septic arthritis.
  • Rectum. This condition's signs and symptoms include anal inflammation, pus-like rectal discharge, specks of bright red blood on toilet paper, and the need to strain during bowel movements.

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Risk Factors Of Gonorrhea

You run a higher risk of developing gonorrhea if the following conditions are present:  

  • Having a new sexual partner
  • Having a sexual partner who has more partners
  • A multiple-sex relationship
  • Having gonorrhea or another STD

Diagnosis Of Gonorrhea

A sample of cells will be analyzed by your doctor to see if you have gonorrhea. Samples can be gathered using:

  • Urine test. It helps to identify the bacteria in your urethra.
  • Sample from the impacted area. Bacteria can be collected and identified in a lab from a swab of your rectum, urethra, vagina, or throat.
  • Women can acquire at-home test kits for gonorrhea. They consist of self-testing vaginal swabs that are sent to a specific lab for examination. You have the option of choosing to get an email or text message alert when your findings are ready. Your results are available online or by calling a toll-free helpline.

Treatment Of Gonorrhea

Adult treatment for gonorrhea

Antibiotics are used to treat gonorrhea in adults. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention advise using the antibiotic ceftriaxone as an injectable to treat uncomplicated gonorrhea due to the emergence of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae strains.

For up to seven days after receiving the antibiotic, you could still infect others. So, avoid sexual activity for a minimum of seven days.

Treatment for partners of gonorrhea patients

Even if they show no symptoms, your recent sexual partner(s) need to be checked and treated as well. You can contract gonorrhea again through intercourse if you don't get treated when you are receiving treatment for it.

Wait seven days after your partner receives treatment before engaging in any sexual activity.

Infant gonorrhea treatment

Antibiotics can be used to treat gonorrhea in babies born to gonorrhea mothers.

Prevention Of Gonorrhea

To lower your risk of contracting gonorrhea:

  • Use a condom if you want to participate in sexual activity. Avoiding sexual activity is the best way to prevent gonorrhea from spreading. However, use a condom for all sexual acts, including anal, oral, and vaginal intercourse, if you do choose to have them.
  • You should have limited sex partners. If you are in a monogamous relationship where neither partner has sex with anybody else, your risk can be decreased.
  • Make sure you and your partner both get STI testing. Before participating in sexual activity, get tested and discuss the results with each other.
  • Avoid having sexual activity with anyone who appears to have an STD. Do not engage in sexual activity with a partner who exhibits indications of a sexually transmitted infection, such as burning while urinating or a genital rash or soreness.
  • Think about gonorrhea testing on a regular basis. It is advised that both older women at increased risk of infection and sexually active women under the age of 25 get screened annually. Women who have a new sex partner, multiple sex partners, multiple partners, or a sex partner with an STD are included in this category.
  • Both males who have sex with guys and their partners should undergo routine screening.
  • Avoid having sex until both you and your sex partner have finished treatment and all symptoms have disappeared in order to prevent contracting gonorrhea again.

Complications Of Gonorrhea

Major problems from untreated gonorrhea include:

  • Female infertility. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is brought on by gonorrhea, can affect the uterus and fallopian tubes. PID can cause the tubes to scar, increase the risk of pregnancy problems, and cause infertility. PID needs quick attention.
  • Male infertile. The sperm ducts are placed in a small, coiled tube called the epididymis, which can become inflamed (epididymitis) as a result of gonorrhea. Infertility may result from untreated epididymitis.
  • The spread of an infection to your joints and other bodily parts. The bacterium that causes gonorrhea has the ability to travel through the circulation and infect various body organs, including the joints. Possible side effects include stiffness, edema, joint discomfort, rash, fever, and skin ulcers.
  • HIV/AIDS infection risk is increased. Gonorrhea increases your risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Those who have both gonorrhea and HIV are more likely to transmit both illnesses to their partners.
  • Complications in infants. Babies who get gonorrhea from their mothers during birth can experience blindness, scalp sores, and infections.

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