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Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease with no symptoms at all

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D. Alwinsky, M.D. ▼ | November 4, 2017
Unprotected sex   A common sexually transmitted infection

More than two million cases of sexually transmitted disease were reported in the US in 2016, the highest number ever. The steepest increases had gonorrhea occurring among men – especially gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

Getting gonorrhea sitting on a toilet seat or through handshaking - those are usual stories from people who don't want to admit they had a sexual intercourses. But that can't happen.

Gonorrhea is spread through sex especially among teens and people in their 20s. It is carried in semen, pre-cum, and vaginal fluids.

Unprotected sex is the main point here because gonorrhea infected fluids must get in contact with your penis, vagina, anus or eye - and it doesn't spread through social contact.

There is another way to get gonorrhea - spreading it to a baby during birth if the mother is infected.

The problem with gonorrhea is absence of symptoms.

Many people don’t have any symptoms which leads to two problems: they are left without treatment in the early phase when they need it most, and they can spread the infection to their sexual partner.

So, the best way to be sure is to have regular testing.

Gonorrhea infection targets penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra, throat, and in rare cases eyes.

Another problem with gonorrhea is that people can confuse symptoms with other conditions.

Withing in week, men can notice yellow, white, or green discharge from the penis, pain or burning sensation during peeing, and pain or swelling in testicles.

Woman can have bleeding between periods, pain or burning when peeing, and yellowish or bloody discharge from the vagina.

If anus is infected, there are itching in or around your anus, abnormal discharge, and pain during pooping.

The incubation period is 2 to 14 days, with most symptoms appearing between 4 and 6 days after infection.

Gonorrhea can lead to serious health problems, from infertility to heart, skin, and joints problems to death, so it's important for the treatment to start early.

However, symptoms are of such nature that, except in extreme cases where there's no medical help easily available, people will seek for help because of them.

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics, it usually takes a week to be cured and in some cases two weeks are needed, but it's not a difficult disease from the treatment point of view.

Now, there are two rules to be followed.

First, your sexual partner must be treated too and sexual partners from the last 2 months should also be treated. There's no point in healing one person when another may still be infected.

Second, when you treatment is over, wait for another week before having sex again. After three months, get tested again just to be sure.

And remember that gonorrhea can happen again. The fact that you were healed doesn't mean you are protected for life. So the best way to stay healthy is to use condoms.

If left untreated it may cause a range of problems, and if it spreads to heart valves that may end with death.

In 2016, WHO warned that a 'super' strain of gonorrhea could become immune to antibiotics in a 'matter of years'. Use protection and get tested regularly and bear in mind that you are contagious until you have been treated.

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