Gonorrhoea symptoms may go away without treatment, but if left un​​checked, this disease can become fatal

According to the Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, gonorrhoea is a very common disease spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus.

"Gonorrhoea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that thrives in the wa​rm, moist areas of the genital tract, mouth, throat, eyes, and anus," say doctors from KK Women's and Children's Hospital, a member of the SingHealth​ group.

Signs & symptoms of gonorrhoea

The signs and symptoms usually appear between 2-10 days after sexual contact with an infected person, but tend to be non-specific in women. It is often mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection.

According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), Singapore, the initial symptoms include a painful or burning sensation when urinating, increased and/or bloody vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods.

Symptoms of rectal infection may include discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements.

Complications of gonorrhoea

The symptoms of gonorrhoea may go away without treatment, but the germs remain in the body, which is why it is important to seek treatment for it.

Gonorrhoea is a common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, which can lead to complications such as chronic pelvic pain, affecting the reproductive organs and even causing infertility. It is also a cause of blindness, as well as joint and blood infections in babies who contract it from their mothers at birth.

Left unchecked, gonorrhoea can spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body including the joints, the brain and the heart, which can become life threatening; it can also put sufferers at greater risk of being infected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Treatment of gonorrhoea

The typical treatment prescribed for gonorrhoea is a course of antibiotics, although in many parts of the world, treatment of gonorrhoea is becoming more difficult because of drug-resistant strains. The correct use of latex condoms and practising safe sex can reduce the risk of catching or spreading this STI.

Ref: O17