Gonococcus: Bacterium that causes gonorrhea.
• What Is Gonorrhea?
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Sexually Transmitted Diseases
|Terminology: Gonorrhea is also known as the Clap.
What Is Gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, also known as gonococcus. Although about 300,000 cases are reported to the CDC every year, the actual occurrence is probably closer to 1 or 2 million a year. As gonorrhea often produces no symptoms in women it is less likely to be diagnosed and treated than in men, and can cause some serious health issues. Despite the fact it can easily be cured with antibiotics, gonorrhea is still one of the major causes of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women which can result in infertility and ectopic pregnancy. Health care providers in every American state are required by law to inform their State Board of Health about anyone diagnosed with gonorrhea. The aim of this law is ensure patients get the correct treatment and that their sexual partners are informed and tested. Additionally, it ensures national statistics can be gathered to monitor the numbers of infections so authorities can judge the effectiveness of public awareness campaigns.
Gonorrhea spreads from one person to another through sexual contact - oral, vaginal and anal sex. Because gonococcus can only survive a few seconds outside of the body, it is extremely unlikely to be transmitted any other way. It thrives in warm moist areas like the cervix, womb and fallopian tubes in women and in the urine canal (urethra) in men (and women). It can also grow in the eyes, throat and anus. It can spread to the eyes if infected genitals are touched and then the eyes are touched. It causes inflammation of the eyelids (gonococcal conjunctivitis), which can lead to blindness if untreated. Occasionally the bacterium gets into the bloodstream at which point it is clinically described as a disseminated gonococcal infection. Depending on which part of the body it infects it can cause skin lesions, arthritis, heart valve disorders and meningitis. Women appear to be more prone to disseminated infections than men.
Symptoms In Women
Less Common Signs
A simple urine or blood test will NOT identify a gonorrhea infection - even if it has spread to the bloodstream. For an accurate diagnosis a sample of pus, mucus or other potentially infected material or discharge from the body must be extracted and examined under a microscope.
In the past anyone suspected of having gonorrhea was dosed with penicillin, but this practice has been abandoned because the bacterium became resistant to it. Penicillin-resistant gonococci accounts for at least 25 percent of gonorrhea cases and penicillin is not good for treating chlamydia (nearly 50 percent of women who have gonorrhea also have chlamydia). For this reason, the CDC periodically changes treatment guidelines to reflect patterns of antibiotic resistance. Currently most infected people are treated with cephalosporin antibiotics (Suprax or Rocephin for example) or fluoroquinolones (Noroxin or Cipro), in addition to antibiotics to treat chlamydia. The advantage of Rocephin (given by injection) is that it can also help get rid of any possible syphilis bacterium. You should not resume sexual activity until you are given the all-clear by your doctor.
Gonorrhea can spread to a newborn baby during a vaginal birth if the mother is infected. In the past it was a major cause of blindness in babies who became infected and developed conjunctivitis. Today blindness is a rare occurrence because all babies with conjunctivitis are treated with antibiotic eye drops, whether or not the mother has an STD. If you are diagnosed with gonorrhea in pregnancy, treatment needs to be given as soon as possible. During pregnancy Rocephin is considered the safest regimen, in addition to amoxicillin or erythromycin to treat any possible chlamydia infection.
You are more likely to develop it if you:
All women who are sexually active and not in a mutually monogamous relationship should:
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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES