Gonorrhoea, caused by the bacteria called the Neisseria Gonorrhoeae, is a common sexually transmitted disease that affects both men and women. Gonorrhoea is commonly found among young adults and adolescents who practice unsafe sex, people of lower social strata and drug users. Babies can contract the infection from the mother during childbirth. In infants, gonorrhoea affects the eyes.
At times gonorrhoea does not show any symptoms, therefore infected individuals are often unaware that they have contracted the disease and the disease spreads easily. About 20 percent of men and 50 percent of women have a chance of contracting the infection from an infected sexual partner.
According to statistics, about 78 to 88 million cases of gonorrhoea surface every year worldwide. According to the data collected in 2010, 900 fatalities were reported due to gonorrhoea.
In Myanmar, the ministry of health has determined sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) like gonorrhoea as a health problem and it ranks 14th in the list of priority diseases.
Gonorrhoea infections do not show any visible symptoms at times, however, some common symptoms that do occur can affect a number of sites in the body like the rectum, throat, eyes and joints. The most common symptoms however are found in the genital tract.
In men, the common symptoms are
- Pain or burning sensation while urinating
- Greenish, pus like discharge from the penis
- Swelling or painful testicles
- Rectal infections cause rectal itching, blood stains, painful bowels and soreness
- Throat infections cause sore throats.
In women the common symptoms are
- Increase in vaginal discharge
- Burning sensation or pain while urinating
- Bleeding from the vagina in between periods
- Abdominal and pelvic pain
When should I see a doctor?
It is essential that you seek medical assistance if you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms. If your partner has been detected with a gonorrhoea infection, it is essential that you get yourself check to prevent the infection. Untreated gonorrhoea can cause serious complications and require hospitalization.
Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics. Earlier a group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones were used to treat gonorrhoea, however, the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria to these antibiotics has led to the use of only one class of antibiotics known as cephalosporins. These antibiotics are administered as a single-dose injection.
In response to the emerging strains of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, it is recommended that uncomplicated gonorrhoea be treated only with the antibiotic ceftriaxone (Rocephin), which is administered as an injection along with doxycycline (Monodox, Oracea,Vibramycin) or azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax). The latter two antibiotics are taken orally. For individuals whose partners are infected, doctors prescribe the same medications as prevention even if there are no evident signs or symptoms of gonorrhoea.
In infants born to mother with the infection get medication in their eyes as soon as they are born. However, if they contract the infection, then antibiotics are used as treatment for the infection.
The prognosis of gonorrhoea that is treated with medication shows 95 to 99 percent successful cure. However if the infection is left untreated, it can lead to complications. Women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease, arthritis, meningitis if gonophore is left untreated. For men untreated gonorrhoea can lead to inflammation of the epididymis, urethra, and prostate gland.
Contacting gonorrhoea and the spread of the infection can be prevented by exercising precaution while having sexual intercourse.
- The use of condoms is the easiest way to prevent infection.
- It is essential to get yourself and your partner tested for STI’s on a regular basis.
- Avoid sexual intercourse with multiple partners
- Seek quick medical assistance for any suspected symptoms