Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection, caused by Neisseria
gonorrhoeae. The disease thrives in the reproductive system in women, infecting
the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes. it also occures in the urethra in both
women and men. In some case, the infection can involve the mouth, throat, eyes,
Where is gonorrhea usually found?
is found in the sexual organs of sexually active people around the world. It may
alsobe found in the throat and /or rectum.
Research suggests that in any one year, upwards of one in
300 people aquire the infection; the incidence may be much higher, as many cases
go unreported, and the infection may be unrecognized or misdiagnosed in many people.
is gonorrhea transmitted?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection;
anyone infected can pass the infection on to others. Additionally, it can be passed
from mother to baby at birth. Infectivity can only be stopped by successfully
treating the infection.
Who is most at risk?
people, particularly in urban areas; promiscuous people of either gender, and
those who have unprotected straight, anal or oro-genital sex.
are the symptoms of gonorrhea?
Men will experience a burning sensation
on passing urine, and have a yellowish white discharge from the penis.
may have a discharge from the vagina and some will have burning while urinating.
in the throat and rectum cause few symptoms. Many women will have no symptoms
at all, but will still be able to pass on the infection. A small proportion of
men will have such mild symptoms that they may not be aware of the infection,
particularly men who habitually have poor personal hygiene.
is gonorrhea diagnosed?
Laboratory tests for Neisseria gonorrhoeae, using
samples of discharge from the urinary tract or cervical smears, is the usual method.
less reliably, urine samples may be tested.
there a treatment for gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea can be treated with appropriate
antibiotics; but as antibiotic-resistant strains develop (and they are developing at an ever increasing rate), management is ever more
difficult, with greater risk of side effects and reduced success in therapy.
Currently (2011) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend
treatment of gonorrhea with a single class of drugs, ie, the cephalosporins.1
there a way to prevent infection?
Safer sex practices and an intelligent
attitude to sexual activity.
What is the mortality
rate for gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is not considered a fatal disease; but in
severely immuno-compromised people, any infection can contribute to further debilitation.
are the long term effects of gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a leading cause of
infertility among women worldwide. Though the disease is curable, symptoms in
women often go unnoticed until permanent scarring of the reproductive organs has
What is the gonorrhea vaccine?
is currently no vaccine, though there is considerable research interest.2
Can gonorrhea be controlled
The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted
diseases is to abstain from sexual contact, or maintain along-term mutually monogamous
relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known not to be infected
with Chlamydia trachomatis.
Due to difficulty and delay in diagnosis,
management of individual occurrences will never eradicate the disease. Increased
understanding of safer sex practice and a change in cultural norms in sexual behaviour
may assist in controlling the disease. In the real world, there is no prospect
of any such understanding or evolution in behaviour; currently, gonorrhea is out
Bibliography and Further Information
- Walker, C. K.,
Sweet, R. L., (2011)
infection in women: prevalence, effects, screening, and management .
Int J Womens Health. 2011; 3: 197–206
Zhu, W. et al., Vaccines for Gonorrhea: Can We Rise to the Challenge?
Front Microbiol. 2011; 2: 124
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Article written by Andrew Heenan BA (Hons), RGN, RMN