What are the Symptoms of Gonorrhoea?

November 12, 2012

What are the Symptoms of Gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that can affect both men and women. One of the main characterising symptoms of gonorrhoea is a thick discharge from the vagina or penis. It is sometimes also referred to as “the clap”, as in the past gonorrhoea pus would be dislodged from the male urethra by “clapping” both sides of the penis at the same time. As well as infecting the genital areas, some of the symptoms of gonorrhoea can also appear in the throat, eyes, blood, skin and joints. Gonorrhoea is contracted though unprotected sexual contact with an infected heterosexual or homosexual partner. It is spread through the contact of semen or vaginal fluids, so can occur during vaginal or anal sex, sharing sex toys and less commonly through oral sex. It can be spread to other parts of the body with fingers that have first been in contact with the genitals and then touch their eyes or other area. In rare cases the bacteria can even be passed from hand to hand. The infection can also be spread from a mother to her baby during childbirth. It cannot, however be caught through kissing, sharing towels, baths, cups or from toilet seats. Gonorrhoea has an incubation period of between 1 and 14 days so it could take up to 2 weeks after being infected for the symptoms of gonorrhoea to begin to appear. There are many cases, particularly in women where there are no symptoms of gonorrhoea at all. This is true for approximately 1/2 of all women with the infection and 1/10 of all men. The throat infection rarely shows symptoms.

The most common symptoms of gonorrhoea in women are more frequent urination, a burning sensation during urination and a strong smelling, yellow or green vaginal discharge. There may also be irritation or discharge from the anus or abnormal vaginal bleeding. Further symptoms of gonorrhoea can include abdominal or pelvic tenderness and abdominal pain sometimes accompanied with nausea.

The symptoms of gonorrhoea in men are similar as the symptoms in women. Most commonly men will experience a thick white, yellow or green discharge from the tip of the penis and an itch or burning sensation when they urinate. Other symptoms of gonorrhoea, which can also occur, are an inflammation of the testicles and prostate gland and an irritation or discharge from the anus.

Gonorrhoea is tested for using urine tests and swab tests and a genital examination conducted by a doctor or nurse. Swabs are taken from the cervix, urethra, rectum or throat, which is often uncomfortable. Treatment is simple and effective and the symptoms of gonorrhoea usually clear up after a dose of antibiotics. Refrain from unprotected sex until the infection has fully cleared up and it is often advised that sexual partners be treated too. In approximately half of all cases of gonorrhoea the patient is also infected with Chlamydia so it is common for treatment of one to be combined with treatment of the other. Treatment should be taken as soon as possible to prevent the development of more serious symptoms of gonorrhoea, such as fertility problems.

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