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City of Banjul
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Gonorrhoea

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By Isatou Nyang,
5th year medical student

UTG Medical Students’ Association

As an African child growing up, speaking about anything related to our sexual life and health is always a taboo. Adults would hide in corners or wait for their kids to sleep before they have their discussions. It is unfortunate that we were always kept in the dark and these have led to our silence in not speaking out anytime we have problems with our genitalia.

The lessons we got on sexual and reproductive health was always from school and we can’t even comfortably face a health practitioner to discuss on any sexually transmitted disease.

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This have led to more consequence in our health. A brother of mind had yellowish discharge from his genital and experiences pain when peeing for a very long time but was too shy to visit a doctor but when things got worse and got no other solution he went to the hospital and was eventually diagnosed with gonorrhoea. During his assessment by the doctor he mentioned that his partner experiences a similar thing and the doctor advised him to bring his partner to the hospital the following day.

Luckily for him the doctor has not only treated him but was equally educated on gonorrhea.

What is Gonorrhoea?

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Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection cause by a bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. This bacterium affects both males and females.

The gonorrhea bacteria are most often passed from one person to another during sexual contact, including oral, anal or vaginal intercourse.

Gonorrhea most often affects the urethra, rectum or throat. In females, gonorrhea can also infect the cervix.

Transmission

Gonorrhea is most commonly spread during vaginal, oral or anal sex. But babies of infected mothers can be infected during childbirth. In babies, gonorrhea most commonly affects the eyes.

Symptoms

In many cases, gonorrhea infection causes no symptoms.

Symptoms, however, can affect many sites in your body, but commonly appear in the genital tract.

Gonorrhea affecting the genital tract

Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea infection in men include:

o          Painful urination

o          Pus-like discharge from the tip of the penis

o          Pain or swelling in one testicle

o          Itching and soreness in your anus

o          Rectal bleeding or discharge

o          Pain when having bowel movements

Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea infection in women include:

o          Increased vaginal discharge

o          Painful urination

o          Vaginal bleeding between periods, such as after vaginal intercourse

o          Abdominal or pelvic pain

o          Pain during penetrative vaginal sex

o          Itching and soreness in your anus

o          Rectal bleeding or discharge

o          Painful bowel movements

Gonorrhea at other sites in the body

Gonorrhea can also affect these parts of the body:

Rectum

Signs and symptoms include anal itching, pus-like discharge from the rectum, spots of bright red blood on toilet tissue and having to strain during bowel movements

Eyes

Gonorrhea that affects your eyes can cause eye pain, sensitivity to light, and pus-like discharge from one or both eyes.

Throat

Signs and symptoms of a throat infection might include a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

Joints

If one or more joints become infected by bacteria (septic arthritis), the affected joints might be warm, red, swollen and extremely painful, especially during movement.

Risk factors

Sexually active women younger than 25 and men who have sex with men are at increased risk of getting gonorrhea.

Other factors that can increase your risk include:

o          Having a new sex partner

o          Having a sex partner who has other partners

o          Having more than one sex partner

o          Having had gonorrhea or another sexually transmitted infection

Complications

Untreated gonorrhea can lead to major complications, such as:

Infertility in women

Gonorrhea can spread into the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can result in scarring of the tubes, greater risk of pregnancy complications and infertility. PID requires immediate treatment.

Infertility in men.

 Gonorrhea can cause a small, coiled tube in the rear portion of the testicles where the sperm ducts are located (epididymis) to become inflamed (epididymitis). Untreated epididymitis can lead to infertility.

Infection that spreads to the joints and other areas of your body

The bacterium that causes gonorrhea can spread through the bloodstream and infect other parts of your body, including your joints. Fever, rash, skin sores, joint pain, swelling and stiffness are possible results.

Increased risk of HIV/AIDS

Having gonorrhea makes you more susceptible to infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that leads to AIDS. People who have both gonorrhea and HIV are able to pass both diseases more readily to their partners.

Complications in babies

Babies who contract gonorrhea from their mothers during birth can develop blindness, sores on the scalp and infections.

Prevention

The safest way to prevent gonorrhea and other STIs is through abstinence. And of course, using a condom or other barrier method every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex can also help lower your risk of contracting many STIs.

Another important step toward preventing STI transmission?

o          Always have an open conversation with new partners before beginning a sexual relationship.

o  It’s also a good idea to check in with your current partner(s) about STI status and testing, and make sure to get tested regularly yourself.

o            If you think you could have contracted gonorrhea, you’ll want to get tested right away. Keep in mind this infection is very common — and nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed of.

o          You can take steps to avoid transmitting or contracting gonorrhea by using barrier methods for all sexual activity, getting tested for STIs regularly, and talking with your partner(s) about STIs before you start a sexual relationship.

Can gonorrhea be cured?

Antibiotics can cure gonorrhea. The health care practitioner would prescribe the right antibiotics for the infection and recommendations would be made for your partner to get tested as well.

We should always take care of our reproductive health and see a doctor anytime we have problems. Let’s do away with shyness when it comes to matters related to our health.

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