You could have Gonorrhea and Not Even Know it!

You can have Gonorrhea and not even know it! Gonorrhea ( Neisseria gonorrhoeae) is a sexually transmitted disease ( STD) whose symptoms are so subtle that they can easily be mistaken for another type of infection. Gonorrhea is caused by a bacterium which can grow and multiply in the moist, warm areas in a woman’s reproductive tract-cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes – as well as the urinary canal of both men and women. Other places Gonorrhea bacteria can grow include the eyes, throat, mouth, and anus. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that over 700,000 people in the United States have Gonorrhea each year. The highest rates of disease are among teenagers, young adults, and African Americans who are sexually active, but Gonorrhea can infect any sexually active person. Gonorrhea is sexually transmitted by contact with the mouth, vagina, anus, or penis (even if ejaculation does not occur). It is also transmitted from mother to infant during a vaginal delivery. Re-infection can occur even if a person has received treatment for Gonorrhea, if they have sexual contact with someone else who is infected with the disease. Symptoms of the disease can take up to thirty days to appear. Many men show no symptoms at all, but some men show symptoms two to five days after being infected. These symptoms include burning during urination; or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. Some men have reported having painful or swollen testicles. The symptoms of Gonorrhea in women are either mild, or they have no symptoms at all – they may only know they have the disease because their sexual partner reports having Gonorrhea. Even when a woman has symptoms, they are usually mistaken for a vaginal, urinary, or bladder infection. When symptoms do occur in women, they can include: burning or pain during urination, vaginal discharge and/or vaginal bleeding between menstrual cycles. Gonorrhea may also infect the rectum of both men and women, and symptoms here include: anal discharge, bleeding, soreness, itching, or painful bowel movements; however, as with genital Gonorrhea, rectal Gonorrhea may also cause no obvious symptoms. Oral Gonorrhea symptoms may include a sore throat, but usually it also causes no obvious symptoms. To diagnose Gonorrhea, there are several laboratory tests available. A sample test from parts of the body which are likely to be infected can be sent to the lab to be analyzed. A urine test can also be used to test for Gonorrhea present in the cervix or urethra. A Gram stain on a cervical or urethral sample is a quick lab test done in the doctor’s office to test for Gonorrhea, but this test works better for men than it does for women. There are several antibiotics that have been effective in curing Gonorrhea. Although medication will cure an acute outbreak of the disease, it will not fix any permanent damage already done by it. To avoid contracting Gonorrhea, always use safe sexual practices that include the use of male or female condoms unless you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship and both partners are known to be free of this and all other STDs such as Genital Herpes, Syphilis, Chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, and others. While a condom does lessen the likelihood of contracting Gonorrhea, it is not a 100% guarantee because other parts of the body can transmit the bacteria or the condom could fail. It is important to select your sexual partners carefully and never participate in high-risk sexual behavior such as selecting a sex partner while intoxicated or other situations where you might not be using your best judgement about safe sex and your sexual health.