Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria. These particular bacteria thrive in the warm, moist areas in both men's and women's reproductive tracts, and they can be passed on through most sexual acts. The bacteria can grow in the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and urethra as well as the anus, mouth, throat and eyes. The disease can also be passed along from a mother to her baby in the womb.
Symptoms of Gonorrhea
When men have gonorrhea, the common symptom is a burning sensation while urinating. The penis may also produce a discharge that is yellow, white or green, and the testicles may swell or be painful to the touch. Other times, men may carry the bacteria and have no symptoms at all.
Women with gonorrhea often have no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they can include a burning sensation while urinating, bleeding between periods or vaginal discharge. Women are more prone to develop complications from gonorrhea.
Gonorrhea that remains untreated can lead to serious complications in both men and women. Women run the risk of developing a painful condition called pelvic inflammatory disease, and they increase their chances of having an ectopic pregnancy, meaning the baby begins to develop outside the womb. Men can get epididymitis, a painful condition near the testicles that in some instances causes infertility.
Considering the seriousness of gonorrhea complications, regular testing for the disease is a good idea for those who have multiple sexual partners, don't use condoms, use drugs or have had a sexually transmitted disease.
Once gonorrhea is detected, it can usually be cured with medication. The early it's detected, the better the prognosis.
SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services