Gonorrhea: Overview

Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease affecting both men and women. Infection may involve sexual organs, oral region, and anal region, depending on the sexual activities. Gonorrhea can be insidious with no early symptoms and even ongoing mild or vague symptoms. Symptoms in women include vaginal discharge, urinary symptoms such as painful urination (if bladder is infected), Bartholinitis (infected Bartholin’s gland), abdominal pain, and other symptoms. Symptoms in men include penile discharge, painful urination, abdominal pain, and testicle pain/swelling. Rectal gonorrhea can cause rectal pain, painful defecation and other symptoms. Oral gonorrhea can cause throat infection with sore throat, painful swallowing, etc. Gonorrhea can also infect the eye causing conjunctivitis. Neonatal gonorrhea can also occur when an infected mother passes the infection to a baby during birth. Complications of gonorrhea can include: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in women (which is itself an insidious disease that may cause many additional complications), epididymis (testicle cord) infection in men, gonorrheal blood infection, and other conditions. Differential diagnosis involves a number of other sexually transmitted diseases. Diagnosis is by symptoms, swab culture, and blood tests. Treatment is mainly by antibiotics (oral or injected at a doctor’s office), but hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics may be required in severe cases.

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