Gonorrhea is a very common sexually transmitted disease that often gets misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. This is because often times those that are infected with gonorrhea show no symptoms at all of having it. Understandably this leads a lot of people to never consider that they could in fact be infected. People need to realize however that if they are sexually active, or have been in the past and haven’t been tested in the past year, then they are at risk. To make things even more difficult, when symptoms of gonorrhea are present they are very similar to other conditions that often causes misdiagnoses and treatment. This is especially common among women, where symptoms of gonorrhea are shared with other common feminine hygiene issues such as bacterial vaginosis. For more information on gonorrhea symptoms and std testing see my other articles on this site.
With nearly one million reported new cases of gonorrhea each year in the US, it’s time to wake up and realize that you could in fact be infected already. Especially because these are just the reported cases, with the CDC estimating that the real total is twice this much. Gonorrhea is probably the STD you would want to have if you had to choose one, for it’s usually symptom and pain free, and treatment is extremely easy with antibiotics. It’s one of the least serious STDs in these regards, but if left untreated it can quickly become a very dangerous illness that goes far beyond being just a sexually transmitted disease.
Women should especially be concerned about their health status when it comes to gonorrhea. This is because more than 50% of the time, women who are infected will not show any symptoms and when they do they will often mistake them for a yeast or other bacterial infection and self treat with an over the counter product. When gonorrhea symptoms subside, and they always will in a couple of weeks after infection, the woman thinks that she is cured and doesn’t think about it again or even consider that perhaps she has gonorrhea. This infection will last years in the body and if it makes it way to the blood or further up the reproductive system of the female, serious consequences can occur.
Gonorrhea can spread through the blood stream, reaching the brain, heart and joints causing inflammation at each point. This is a very serious and painful condition that can lead to loss of motor function and certainly a lesser quality of life. If the infection moves up the reproductive system, women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease which is also a condition where nearly a million new cases are reported annually. This condition will cause scar tissue in the fallopian tubes and if there is enough scar tissue it can block the tubes meaning a fertilized egg cannot pass through. This will result in a pregnancy that takes place outside of the uterus, also known as an ectopic pregnancy. In fact 50 percent of ectopic pregnancies are a result of PID. When this occurs it requires surgery and will almost always result in a miscarriage and even puts the mother in risk of death. PID is no joke, be sure you are aware of the symptoms and are checked annually for gonorrhea if you are a woman, no matter if you have symptoms or not.
PID causes damage to the fallopian tubes and reproductive system, and can certainly leave women without the ability to bear children (infertile). Women who are pregnant are at risk for other complications for her and her unborn child, which is a good reason why almost every doctor will suggest that pregnant women be checked for gonorrhea. If left untreated a pregnant woman is at risk for premature delivery, infection of the lining of the uterus, miscarriage and the risk of passing infection onto the born child. Newborns who are infected are put at great risk for pink eye, sepsis, meningitis and arthritis, something no newborn should have to start life with. For more on the complications of gonorrhea during child birth, see here.
For men, complications of untreated gonorrhea are less severe, but still a serious matter if you ask any man. Men are at risk for developing epididymitis, which is an infection and inflammation of the tube that connects the testicles to the vas deferens. Men are also at risk for a higher chance of developing bladder cancer and prostatitis, inflammation of the prostate gland. Men can also be infertile as a result of untreated gonorrhea.
Of course the ability to infect others is also a consequence from untreated gonorrhea and should be reason enough for people to be getting tested annually. Gonorrhea testing is so easy and painless a simple urine test is all that is needed and if indeed you test positive a simple course of antibiotics will have you cured in no time. Quit making excuses not to be tested for STDs, it’s the only way to be certain you are in fact free of gonorrhea.