DR MAXWELL ADEYEMI
Gonorrhoea is one of the most contagious sexually transmitted infections (STI) that can affect both men and women. It is caused by the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoea, previously known as “the clap”, which is mostly present in vaginal fluids and discharge from the penis. If not treated on time, it may damage the urinary tract, lead to heart disease, arthritis, meningitis and even infertility.
The surface of gonorrhoea bacteria has proteins that can easily attach to cells in the cervix or urethra. When this happens, they invade and spread to other regions of the body, making it difficult for the body to fight the bacteria and therefore destroying the cells and tissue of the body. Gonorrhoea spreads easily in moist areas of the reproductive tract, the mouth, throat, eyes and anus, and is most commonly transferred during vaginal, oral or anal sex without a condom.
It may lead to infertility in women by spreading into the cervix and damaging the fallopian tubes. In males, it damages the epididymis, thereby leading to infertility. Babies can also be infected with gonorrhoea by infected mothers during childbirth and can lead to blindness and cause sores on the scalp of the infant.
• Sexually active individuals.
• Having multiple sex partners.
• Having partners with sexually transmitted infection.
• Having unprotected sex.
• Sharing sex toys.
Signs and symptoms of gonorrhoea
Symptoms of gonorrhoea usually appear within two to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria. But not every carrier of gonorrhoea will have noticeable symptoms.
Men may experience a burning sensation when urinating; frequent urination; white, yellow or green discharge from the tip of the penis; swollen testicles; irritation at the anus; continuous sore throat.
Most women with gonorrhoea are asymptomatic, and even they have symptoms they are not easily noticeable and may be mistaken for minor vaginal infection. Women with gonorrhoea are at high risk of developing long-term complications such as infertility from the infection even when they show no symptoms. Some women may experience increased vaginal discharge; bleeding after intercourse; painful urination; abdominal or pelvic pain; pain during sexual intercourse; heavy bleeding.
Gonorrhoea can also affect other parts of the body such as:
• The eyes – sensitivity to light, pus-like discharge from one or both eyes, and pains in the eyes.
• Throat – sore throat and swollen neck.
• Joints – swollen joints, stiffness and painful movement.
• Rectum – anal itching, painful bowel movement, pus-like discharge, soreness and bleeding.
Gonorrhoea and fertility
Gonorrhoea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) when the bacterium scars the uterus and fallopian tubes. This causes blockage in the tubes and complications in pregnancy or infertility. This disease can occur within two days to three weeks of exposure to gonorrhoea. It can also cause ectopic or tubal pregnancy and epididymitis. In ectopic pregnancy, the fertilised egg is unable to implant in the womb due to the blockage caused by gonorrhoea. Fertilisation may take place outside of the womb, causing pains in the pelvic region. Epididymitis is when the epididymis located in the testicles are inflamed, leading to a blockage in sperm movement.
The safest way to prevent gonorrhoea or other STIs is to abstain from sex. If you must engage in sexual activities, limit your number of partners to one and always use a condom. Have regular gonorrhoea screenings and be open with your sexual partners about your STI status. If your partner is having any symptoms of gonorrhoea, avoid any sexual contact and advise them to seek medical attention.
Treatment of gonorrhoea
Most gonorrhoea transmissions may be treated with modern antibiotics. There are no over-the-counter medications for gonorrhoea. If you suspect that you may have contracted gonorrhoea, first seek medical attention from a qualified doctor who will prescribe appropriate antibiotics to treat the infection.
In some developed countries, healthcare professionals are required by law to report diagnoses to the public health authorities who will then identify, contact, test, and treat any sexual partners of the person who has been diagnosed with gonorrhoea to help prevent transmission of the disease.
Contact Dr Maxwell at 363-1807 or 757-5411.