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  • Gonorrhea Knows No Gender Or Age: Here Are The Signs And Symptoms For Men And Women

    This type of STD affects even newborn babies.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
Gonorrhea Knows No Gender Or Age: Here Are The Signs And Symptoms For Men And Women
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  • Editor’s Note: This article is intended for information purposes only. It does not substitute a doctor. It is vital to always consult a medically trained professional for advice that suits your needs best.

    Gonorrhea knows no gender or age. Yes, it can affect even babies. But it is not often and openly discussed. That's why gonorrhea signs and symptoms are generally ignored until it's too late.

    The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls gonorrhea as a "very common disease," particularly among the youth, with ages rangings from 15 to 24.

    In the Philippines, gonorrhea is among the primary types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and STIs remain a "major health problem." This is according to the Makati Medical Center (MMC).

    What is gonorrhea?

    Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection also known by the terms "the clap" and "drip," as well as "tulo" in the Filipino vernacular. It is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, according to Mayo Clinic. It can be transmitted by an infected person through sexual contact—oral, anal, o vaginal—especially when not using any type of protection.

    Aside from adults and youngsters, both male and female, newborn babies can also get the disease from their infected mothers. That's why experts advise to get treatment while still pregnant.

    Once the bacterium is inside the body, it oftentimes attacks the urethra, rectum, throat, and cervix for women. For newborn babies, their eyes are the most vulnerable as they go through vaginal delivery. They can get the infection if their eyes get in contact with their mothers' cervix, where there's a presence of the bacterium.

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    From the infected body parts, gonorrhea spreads to the rest of the body, particularly the joints. If it is not treated, the patient can acquire and pass on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This happens through the activated immune cells that causes the inflammation. The disease can also lead to other more serious health problems, including infertility.

    While it's true that gonorrhea is highly infectious, according to Cleveland Clinic, it can't be passed through casual touching, such as hugging and kissing on the cheeks. It can't also be passed through the use of common bathroom or cutlery (spoons, forks, plates).

    Gonorrhea signs and symptoms

    Gonorrhea is quite a tricky disease, according to Planned Parenthood. This is because not all those infected experience gonorrhea symptoms, and if they do, they would think they have urinary tract infection (UTI) or other conditions.

    Gonorrhea in men

    Experts point out that symptoms are more noticeable in men than in women. However, men are less likely to experience symptoms compared to women, and if ever they do, the symptoms would be mild.

    By the time a man gets exposed to the gonorrhea bacterium, it would take 2 to 5 days to incubate until the symptoms start to manifest within 30 days.

    The gonorrhea symptoms in men include:

    • Burning sensation while urinating
    • Frequent urination
    • Appearance of pus or discharge (white, yellow, green) from the penis
    • Inflammation or changing of the color at the tip of the penis
    • Pain, which may include inflammation, in one or both testicles
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    Aside from the male genitals, the gonorreha bacterium can also enter the body through the anus. He will may experience these symptoms:

    • Itchiness or pain around the anus area
    • Bleeding or having discharge from the anus
    • Painful passing of stool

    Experts say that symptoms in men are usually noticeable in the morning, so being observant during the first visit in the toilet can be very helpful in detecting the disease.

    Gonorrhea in women

    Experts advise women, especially when protected sex is not practised, to take note of these symptoms:

    • Unusual vaginal discharge (can be white or yellow)
    • Pain in the lower abdomen or around the pelvis
    • Burning sensation while urinating
    • Bleeding without menstruation
    • Infection in the throat (maybe because of oral sex)

    Take note also the symptoms that your husband or partner may be experiencing. But the best thing to do is consult your doctor and take the initial urine test.

    Gonorrhea when pregnant

    You can still have a safe pregnancy even while undergoing treatment for gonorrhea, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA). It also doesn't matter if you got the infection before or while pregnant, as long as you get treated.

    Otherwise, you may develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). It causes the scar tissue that blocks the fallopian tubes, which may lead to ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain.

    Gonorrhea in newborn babies

    Another consequence of not getting treatment for gonorrhea is the possibility of your baby getting the infection during vaginal delivery, according to experts. This happens while your baby passes through the vaginal canal and your baby gets in contact with the gonorrhea bacterium found around your vagina.

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    The gonorrhea signs and symptoms can be confirmed with the help of your doctor, who will then tell you to take some tests. Treatment includes taking antibiotics, some of which are safe for pregnant women and newborn babies.

    Read here for more on gonorrhea treatment.

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