Women’s Health

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The CDC estimates that more than 700,000 men and women contract new gonorrheal infections each year in the U.S. Gonorrhea is an important cause of urethritis (infection of the tube that carries urine) in men. In women, gonorrhea can cause a cervicitis (infection of the cervix) as well pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) –a cause of infertility and chronic pelvic pain. Gonorrhea can also cause proctitis (infection of the anus) as a result of anal intercourse, pharyngitis (sore throat) as a result of oral-genital transmission and even infection of the Bartholin’s glands and Skene’s glands. Compared to other infections the “attack rate” of gonorrhea is very high. The odds of a woman becoming infected with gonorrhea after a single episode of intercourse with an infected man (without the use of a condom) are about 50%.

What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

For women, the early symptoms of gonorrhea ar often mild and usually appear within 2-10 days after sexual contact with an infected partner. Early symptoms include:

  • Bleeding associated with vaginal intercourse
  • Yellow or blood vaginal discharge

More advanced symptoms may indicate an ascending infection—pelvic inflammatory disease. The symptoms of PID include

  • Fever, chills
  • Vomiting
  • Cramps and pain
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods

What are the risk factors for becoming infected with gonorrhea?

The risk factors for becoming infected with GC are identical to those mentioned above under chlamydial infections.

How can I tell if I have gonorrhea?

The most commonly used method of detecting gonorrhea is by a simple cervical culture. A swab is taken from the cervix and results are often reported within 48 hours.

What is the treatment of gonorrhea?

The treatment of gonorrhea depends on a number of factors. However, the CDC recommends one of the following treatments.

  • Ceftriaxone125 mg given as an intramuscular injection
  • Ciprofloxacin 500 mg orally once
  • Ofloxacin 400 mg orally once
  • Levofloxacin 250 mg orally once
  • Spectinomycin 2 g as an intramuscular injection

Gonorrhea is a reportable disease in every state. Sexual partners of patients diagnosed with gonorrhea at any site who’ve had contact with the infected patients within the past 2 months should be evaluated and treated.