Gonorrhea is an STI caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. It is mainly found in the discharge from the penis and vaginal fluid. The bacteria infects the cervix, urethra, and the rectum and in some rare cases the throat or eyes.

                                               Image of Gonorrhea bacteria                   Gonococcal urethritis (eye infected by the gonorrhea bacteria)


The bacteria is mostly spread through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sexual intercourse with infected persons even in cases where ejaculation has not occurred the risk of infection is still high. Any sexually active person is at high risk of contracting the infection. A pregnant mother can also pass the infection to her baby during child birth. This may cause blindness, joint infection or a life-threatening infection to the child.

                              Baby suffering from conjunctivitis as a result of the gonococcus bacteria


Occur within two to fourteen days after exposure. It is also important to note that many people infected may never show any noticeable symptoms and are at risk of spreading the infection to other people. However for those that develop symptoms they are as shown below.


• Greater frequency or urgency of urination that has a burning sensation

• Pus-like discharge or drip from the penis that could be white, yellow, beige or greenish in color.

• Swelling at the opening of the penis
• Swelling or pain in the testicles
• A persistent sore throat


Most women tend to get very mild symptoms making them more difficult to identify. The infection appears similarly to vaginal yeast or bacterial infection. Symptoms include:
• Discharge from the vagina that has a foul smell

• Pain or burning sensation while urinating
• Need to urinate more frequently
• Sore throat
• Pain while engaging in sexual intercourse
• Sharp pain in the lower abdomen
• Fever


If Gonorrhea is not treated it may eventually spread into the blood stream causing a rash, fever, or pain in the joints. Also, women are at a greater risk of long-term complications from an untreated infection. They may develop scarring of the fallopian tubes which can prevent future pregnancy. Infection can also lead to PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)


Diagnosis and treatment
A sample of vaginal or penile discharge is taken and put on a slide and viewed by a lab technician under a microscope. A second method involves taking the sample and placing it on a special dish which is incubated under ideal growth conditions for several days. If gonorrhea is present a colony of the bacteria will grow. Most of the gonorrhea strains can be cured using modern antibiotics. However, the emergence of drug resistance strains of gonorrhea is proving to be a challenge. There is no vaccine available yet however scientists are working to discover such a vaccine.


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