Gonorrhea: Latest Facts, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

An infected person doesn’t have to show symptoms to be infectious.

Researchers say a man is about 20% likely to become infected from having sex with a woman carrying the N. gonorrhea bacterium after only one encounter, even if the latter shows no symptoms. The risk is higher for gay men.

For women, the risk of contracting the infection from single vaginal intercourse with a man having the bacterium can be as high as 80%.

Without having sex, people may still get an infection. This could happen through the careless sharing of sex toys, for instance. Infected pregnant women can also pass it on to their babies during childbirth.

The risk factors for getting gonorrhea infection include:

  • Being young
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Having sex with a sex worker or someone who has, or had, other sexual partners
  • Past gonorrhea infection
  • Other STIs

Symptoms of Gonorrhea

The first signs of a gonorrhea infection typically appear within two days to two weeks after exposure to the bacterium.

One of the symptoms you might notice is a sore throat. Gonorrhea could also result in redness of the eye (conjunctivitis) or swelling of lymph nodes around the neck.

Symptoms in women

Estimates have it that up to about 50 percent of women with gonorrhea do not show symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Burning or pain when passing urine
  • Heavier periods or bleeding between periods
  • Pain when having sex

In rare cases, infected women may bleed after having sexual intercourse.

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