What Is Gonorrhea And Why Is It Dangerous? 5 Alarming Symptoms Of The Condition

Date June 22, 2018

Gonorrhea in a nutshell

Gonorrhea, also known as “the clap,” is one of the most common bacterial STIs in the United States and elsewhere. Gonorrhea is more common in adolescents and young adults than in other age groups. The infection usually affects the genitals, but it may also affect the throat, eyes, and rectum. The best way to prevent gonorrhea is practicing safe sex.

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The STI can be successfully treated and cured with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can cause serious complications, including infertility (in both women and men) and blindness in babies born to infected mothers.

READ ALSO: 7 Warning Signs Of Chlamydia Infection, And How To Protect Yourself From This Dangerous STI

Symptoms of gonorrhea

Symptoms of gonorrhea usually develop within a few days to a couple of weeks after exposure to the bacteria. Some people don’t get symptoms, but they can still pass the infection on to their sexual partners.

Symptoms of the infection differ in women and men. Infected men may experience the following:

  • painful urination;
  • needing to urinate more often;
  • white, yellow, greenish, or beige discharge from the penis;
  • red and swollen opening of the penis;
  • rarely, testicular pain and swelling.

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Infected women may develop the following symptoms:

  • greenish or yellow vaginal discharge;
  • pain when peeing;
  • peeing more often;
  • pain in the lower abdomen;
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding (bleeding heavily during periods, bleeding between periods and after intercourse).

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This isn’t common, but if bacteria get on the eyes, both men and women can develop conjunctivitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane covering the insides of the eyelids and visible part of the eye). The infection may also affect the throat (causing soreness and swollen lymph nodes in the neck) and rectum (causing rectal pain, irritation, swelling, and discharge).

READ ALSO: Is Vaginal Discharge Normal? When To See A Doctor If It Changes

Potential complications of gonorrhea

If gonorrhea is detected and treated promptly, it’s unlikely to cause any complications. However, without treatment, it can cause serious, even permanent damage.

In women, gonorrhea can spread up the reproductive tract and cause inflammation of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. This is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which may lead to chronic pelvic pain and infertility.

In men, the infection can also cause infertility or reduced fertility.

Other possible (but rare) complications that can affect both women and men include arthritis, heart valve damage, and meningitis.

Gonorrhea can also lead to vision loss in babies born to infected mothers, if they are born through vaginal delivery.

How to protect yourself from gonorrhea

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The one surefire way to prevent the infection is not having sex. But there are things that you can do to lower your risk; these include the following:

  • having sex with only one partner who also doesn’t have other partners;
  • having new partners tested before having sex with them;
  • using condoms;
  • getting regular screenings for gonorrhea and other STIs.

Source: WebMD, HealthLine, Medical News Today

READ ALSO: 7 Alarming Symptoms Of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease And How To Prevent This Dangerous Condition

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.