Gonorrhea Facts: Diseases of the World

With over 100 million cases documented worldwide, this sexually transmitted infection is among the most widespread.



Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection that affects both men, and women. It’s caused by infection with the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. Men with Gonorrhea will often experience a burning sensation when urinating, and there may be white, yellow or green discharge from the penis, as well as possible swelling of the testicles. For women, there is increased vaginal discharge and bleeding between periods, as well as pain when urinating. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the rectum may also become infected in both men and women alike, resulting in colored discharges, anal itching, soreness, bleeding and painful bowel movements.


Gonorrhea spreads from an infected person to another when the two people engage in unprotected sex, whether it be vaginal, oral, or anal sex.Transmission also occurs when sex toys, like vibrators, are shared without being cleaned, or otherwise covered with a condom or other external protection. According to the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA), Gonorrhea transmission also occurs when the mucous membrane, the soft skin covering all bodily openings including the vagina and anus, comes into contact with the mucous membrane secretions of an infected person, such as vaginal fluid or semen. Even women who have not had anal sex can contract gonorrhoea through the anus or rectum, given such women wipe themselves with toilet paper or vaginal wipes that have previously been in contact with their infected vaginas.


Though rates of Gonorrhea infections remain on the rise, there are relatively few deaths reported from the disease, especially in the developed world. A new threat came to be in 2012, when the CDC reported of a new Gonorrhea strain that had developed, and that it was resistant to antibiotic drugs and other treatments currently available. If left untreated for men, according to ASHA, Gonorrhea can cause inflammation of the prostate gland and epididymis, infertility, and scarring of the urethra, resulting in its narrowing or even complete closing.For women, if untreated, it may result in miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, ultimate infertility, chronic menstrual difficulties, urinary inflammation, and increased inflammation of the uterus lining during childbirth.


Annually, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports there are 100 million cases of Gonorrheal infections. Being a sexually transmitted disease, its prevalence is not location specific. It may occurs anywhere in the world where infected persons engage in risky sexual activity. According to UK’s National Health Service, 1 in 10 men, and almost half of infected women, don’t experience any significant symptoms. As such, the disease is allowed to advance to chronic stages unchecked. According to a study published by the Austin Community College, Gonorrhea most commonly affects men and women between the ages of 15 and 29 years old.


The current anti-Gonorrhea antibiotic treatments recommended by the CDC include cefixime, ceftriaxone, and cephalosporin. These antibiotics are largely available throughout many developing countries. Still, there has yet to be an effective vaccine developed for the disease. CDC studies report that the aforementioned new strains of Gonorrhea are developing resistance to treatment, leading to them to recommend increased antibiotic dosage levels. However, with new Gonorrheal strains continuing to creep in, the World Health Organization projects that managing the spread of the infection will become increasingly problematic. According to ASHA, the most surefire preventative measures, besides sexual abstinence, are monogamy and the proper use of condoms.


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