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Type of Infection: Bacterial

Transmission: Vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Symptoms: Early symptoms in females may be asymptomatic. When symptoms do appear, they are often mild and usually appear within 2 - 10 days after exposure. The symptoms include discharge from the penis, vagina, or rectum and burning, frequent, painful or itching during urination. Abnormal menstrual bleeding, acute inflammation in the pelvic area and rectal itching. Males usually do experience symptoms of gonorrhea. These symptoms include a yellow discharge of pus and mucus from the penis and slow, difficult and painful urination.

The symptoms usually appear seven to twenty-one days after sexual contact. Penicillin or another antibiotic is the usual treatment. Be sure to add some acidophilus to your diet if you are taking one of these antibiotics.

If left untreated, the gonorrhea organism (gonococcus) can enter the rest of the body through the bloodstream and go into the bones, joints, tendons and other tissues. At this stage the disease is difficult to detect and is often misdiagnosed as simple arthritis.

There is a new strain of gonorrhea that has spread rapidly sinced it was first identified in 1985. This strain is resistant to the drug tetracyclline and some forms of penicillin, but it can be cured.

  • Treatment: Infection can be cured with antibiotics. However, it cannot undo the damage done prior to treatment.

  • Impact on Infected Person: Untreated in women, the disease is a major cause of pelvic inflammatory disease. Ectopic pregnancy, infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. It can cause sterility in men. Untreated gonorrhea can infect the joints, heart valves and/or the brain.

  • Impact on Fetus or Newborn: Gonorrhea can cause blindness and systemic diseases such as meningitis and septic arthritis in infants infected during delivery. To prevent blindness, all newborns delivered in hospitals have their eves treated with medication specific for gonorrhea.

  • Preventive measures: Abstaining from vaginal, anal and oral sex with an infected person is the only 100% effective means of prevention. Latex condoms can reduce but not eliminate the risk of contracting the disease during sex.

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