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Gonorrhoea

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VOL: 101, ISSUE: 13, PAGE NO: 27

What is it?

 

What is it?
- Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection also known as ‘the clap’. It infects the genitals, urethra, anus, rectum and throat.

 

 

- In rare cases it can affect the blood, skin, joints and eyes.

 

 

- Gonorrhoea is the second most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK and the number of cases is rising every year.

 

 

- Men aged 20-24 and women aged 16-19 are most commonly affected.

 

 

Causes
- Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus.

 

 

- Gonorrhoea can be passed on through: vaginal, oral or anal sex; close physical contact; sharing sex toys; from a mother to her baby at birth; and from the genitals to the eyes via the fingers.

 

 

- Gonorrhoea cannot be transmitted through casual contact such as sharing towels, cups, plates, cutlery, or from toilet seats.

 

 

Symptoms
- One in ten men and one in two women do not experience any symptoms, which means the infection can often go untreated. This can result in serious long-term health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

 

 

- PID can cause long-term pelvic pain, abdominal pain, tenderness and fever.

 

 

- If left untreated, PID in women may lead to blocked fallopian tubes, which can result in reduced fertility or infertility, ectopic pregnancy; and

 

 

- Untreated PID in men can lead to pain and swelling of the testicles or prostate.

 

 

- A mother with gonorrhoea can pass an eye infection on to her baby at birth, which can lead to blindness if untreated.

 

 

- Those women who do experience symptoms may notice:

 

 

- An unpleasant-smelling green or yellow discharge from the vagina;

 

 

- Pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area, including a burning sensation when urinating;

 

 

- Irritation or discharge from the anus.

 

 

- Male symptoms include:

 

 

- A white, yellow or green-coloured discharge from the tip of the penis;

 

 

- Pain or tenderness caused by inflammation of the testicles or prostate gland;

 

 

- Pain or a burning sensation when urinating;

 

 

- Irritation or discharge from the anus.

 

 

- Symptoms in both men and women usually appear between 1-14 days after infection.

 

 

Diagnosis
- Tests for gonorrhoea should not be painful but may be uncomfortable. They involve: a urine sample; a genital examination; and swabs from the cervix, urethra, throat or rectum. Women may also have an internal examination.

 

 

- The swab is tested in a laboratory for Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

 

 

- The patient should also be tested for evidence of other sexually transmitted infections.

 

 

Treatment
- Gonorrhoea is treated with a single dose of oral antibiotics, or sometimes by injection.

 

 

- If the condition does not disappear with traditional antibiotics, doctors may prescribe stronger variations.

 

 

- An appointment at a GP or genitourinary clinic should be made for 72 hours after the treatment to ensure the antibiotics have worked.

 

 

- Sex or intimate contact should be avoided until it can be confirmed that the antibiotics have been effective.

 

 

- Babies with infection, or at increased risk of it, will usually be given antibiotics immediately after birth to prevent blindness and further complications.

 

 

- The most effective method of prevention is barrier contraception, such as condoms.

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