Gonorrhea is, unfortunately, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. It is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium and one of the worst things about it is that a lot of the infected people don’t show any symptoms.
It particularly affects people in their late teens and 20s. And owing to some of the symptoms that do manifest, it has earned such notorious nicknames as “the drip” or “the clap”. If diagnosed in time, gonorrhea can be successfully treated with antibiotic therapies. Otherwise, the bacteria can be the cause of some more serious health problems and even lead to infertility.
What Are Gonorrhea Symptoms in Women?
Unlike men, most women who contract gonorrhea don’t display any symptoms upon contracting the bacteria. However, if the symptoms do occur, the first ones appear in about seven days after the infection and they include:
The vaginal discharge in case of gonorrhea is usually yellow and higher than usual. Though it does not have to be too severe, you should get tested as soon as there is some suspicion.
Irregular Vaginal Bleeding
Women who experience vaginal bleeding that is not related to their periods might have contracted gonorrhea. If the bleeding happens after vaginal intercourse, you should set up an appointment with your gynecologist to potentially rule out this infection.
Painful Sexual Intercourse
Another common gonorrhea symptom is painful intercourse. If you feel an increased discomfort and pain which may be coupled with some of the abovementioned symptoms, it may point to gonorrhea.
Pain in the Lower Abdomen
The pain in the lower abdomen usually starts in the pelvis, but without treatment it can spread to the stomach. In some severe cases, it can also cause vomiting and nausea.
On the other hand, gonorrhea symptoms may not be limited to the vaginal and lower abdomen regions. They can also appear in the rectal area and manifest in the following:
Similar to vaginal discharge, the rectal discharge in those affected by gonorrhea might be pus-like and yellowish.
Bloody toilet tissues coupled with increased straining while defecating can be a signal of rectal gonorrhea infection.
Abnormal itching of the anal region is also among the common gonorrhea symptoms in women. Particularly if the itching comes with other rectal or vaginal symptoms listed above.
Other Regions That Can Be Affected by Gonorrhea
Since gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease, the symptoms commonly occur in the rectal and vaginal area. However, the virus can affect the throat, eyes, and joints as well.
The signs of the infection in the throat are usually mild and can often be mistaken for a common sore throat. In some cases, gonorrhea in the throat can manifest in swollen neck lymph nodes. If the infection spreads to the eyes, the afflicted usually experiences light sensitivity, pain, and discharge.
Septic arthritis occurs when the Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection reaches joints in your body. Compared to some other symptoms and afflicted areas, this is quite rare and severe. Those who suffer from septic arthritis have extremely painful, swollen, and worm joints.
How Is Gonorrhea Contracted?
Women, as well as men, contract gonorrhea by engaging in unprotected intercourse with an affected person. The bacteria spread via semen and pre-ejaculate fluid. It can also be found in vaginal fluids, inside the mouth, genitals, and anus.
Consequently, the primary ways of contracting gonorrhea are oral, anal, and vaginal sex. It is worth noting that the bacteria can be transmitted even without full anal or vaginal penetration. On the other hand, you can also get gonorrhea if your hand is contaminated with the infected fluids and you touch your eyes with it.
However, there is no way to get gonorrhea through casual contact. You are in no danger if you kiss, hug, hold hands, or even share food with the infected person. What’s more, there is no need to worry if the infected person sneezes or coughs in your presence since gonorrhea is not an airborne disease.
Treatment of Gonorrhea Symptoms in Women
If you are diagnosed with gonorrhea, you need to follow the prescribed antibiotic therapy to the T. You mustn’t discontinue the medication even if the symptoms go away after just a few days since the infection would still be lingering in your body. It is also important to ask your partner to get tested to prevent possible recurring infections.
In addition, you need to abstain from sex for a week after you finish with the medication (if you are prescribed only one course). After you’re done with the prescribed treatment, you should get tested again in about three months to ensure there is no leftover infection.
You should know that gonorrhea is not a one-time infection. Even if you are treated and get rid of the bacteria completely, there is a possibility to contract it again. This is why it is important to employ prevention methods.
How to Prevent Gonorrhea?
Prevention is the best way to fight this annoying infection, even though some of the prevention methods might not be your cup of tea. Some of the common prevention methods include:
Using a Condom
To be 100% sure of not contracting gonorrhea is to abstain from sex. If not, use a condom regardless of the sex act. As you know, condoms significantly reduce the chances of getting most STDs, including gonorrhea.
Look for Symptoms
Men experience gonorrhea symptoms more often than women, and the symptoms are very similar. If you partner complains of burning sensation while urinating or displays other symptoms like the ones described above, you shouldn’t engage in intercourse.
Regular screenings for STDs are recommended for sexually active women. Especially those who recently changed partners or have an increased risk of infection. Remember that gonorrhea can be treated quite effectively if diagnosed early, so there is no need to dread the screening.
The Final Drop
This write-up should help you have a greater understanding of gonorrhea symptoms in women and encourage you to seek treatment as soon as you become suspicious. Unfortunately, gonorrhea and other STDs have become quite widespread so it pays to be extra vigilant to ensure the health of your reproductive organs.