What causes gonorrhea?Gonorrhea is caused by the growth and proliferation of the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The disease can survive in the eye, rectum, mouth, penis, throat, or vagina. This means that it can be transmitted through any variety of sexual contact.
Once infected, a person runs a high risk of spreading the bacteria to other parts of their body. For instance, someone with gonorrhea may rub his or her eye, inadvertently spreading the infection and elongating the treatment period. The infection can also be spread from mothers to babies during childbirth.
Who is at risk of getting gonorrhea?Any sexually active person can become infected with gonorrhea. Rates of infection are highest among teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 29. Those who have been diagnosed with and treated for gonorrhea in the past have no resistance to the bacteria.
What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?Symptoms of gonorrhea, usually appearing between two and ten days after exposure, can take up to 30 days to occur and are sometimes so mild they are mistaken for something else. Most women with gonorrhea show no symptoms. In men, the symptoms include:
- Yellow, green, or white discharge from the penis
- Testicular swelling and/or pain
- Burning during urination
- Yellow, green, or white vaginal discharge
- Pain or burning during urination
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Conjunctivitis (pink-eye)
- Irregular bleeding (between periods)
- Vulvitis (swelling of the vulva)
- Spotting after intercourse